Gambling revenue in South Korea’s casino market rose by 13.3 percent year-on-year in 2021, to KRW1.18 trillion (US$931.0 million), from KRW1.04 trillion in 2020, according to data from the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, released on its website on Tuesday.
But the improvement was due to Kangwon Land (pictured), the only resort allowed to serve domestic customers.
The data indicated Kangwon Land Inc, operator of the Kangwon Land resort, saw its gambling revenue up to 74.7 percent year-on-year in 2021, to KRW775.0 billion, from KRW443.5 billion.
The ministry’s methodology used for measuring such revenue, differs from the the industry operators, due to accounting for bad debt, complimentary allowances, and commissions.
The 2021 casino revenue for the country’s 16 foreigner-only casinos actually had a 32.3 percent decline, to KRW405.0 billion, from KRW597.8 billion in 2020, according to the ministry’s data.
The aggregate number of visits to the country’s casino venues saw an 11.8-percent decline year-on-year, to 1,552,711, from 1,760,232 in 2020.
Paradise Co Ltd, one operator of foreigner-only casinos, reported gambling sales down 25.5 percent year-on-year in 2021, to KRW249.9 billion, from KRW335.5 billion.
Grand Korea Leisure Co Ltd, another entity with foreigner-only casinos, experienced its gambling sales fall 51.8 percent year-on-year in calendar-year 2021, to KRW89.6 billion, from KRW186.0 billion.
The total number of employees in casino businesses fell 5.9 percent, down by 417 employees year-on-year; to 6,688 employees in 2021. The industry’s employee tally in 2020 had been 7,105.
The number of employees at Paradise Co Ltd was down 164 by year-end 2021, to 1,817 employees, compared to 1,981 in 2020.
For Landing Casino, at Jeju Shinhwa World on Jeju, operated by Hong Kong-listed Landing International Development Ltd, the workforce was down to 256 by year-end, from 451 employees in 2020, a year-on-year change of 195.
Coinciding with those year-on-year changes, during 2021 both those firms had conducted what they respectively termed “voluntary retirement” exercises among casino staff, according to South Korean news reports and Landing International announcements.
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, all South Korean casinos had in 2021 faced capacity limitations. Some had also faced periods of temporary disruption.
The ministry’s data also said KRW112.4 billion was assessed as payable by the industry for calendar-year 2021, for the country’s “Tourism Promotion and Development Fund”. That was a rise of 15.1 percent year-on-year, from 2020’s KRW97.7 billion.
A mandatory contribution to the fund is levied on the whole casino industry, but the actual payment date of the 2021 amount “would be…next year”, i.e., 2023, according to the ministry’s data table.
The ministry said such contribution was calculated as a percentage of the industry’s total gambling sales revenue. For any individual casino business with annual sales revenue of under KRW1.0 billion, the levy was set at 1 percent of such revenue.
Any casino business with sales revenue of KRW1.0 billion up to KRW10.0 billion, were required to pay 5 percent.
If any casino business had sales revenue over KRW10.0 billion, it was mandated to pay 10 percent of that to the fund.
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