South Korea’s Kangwon Land casino resort (pictured) will tighten its customer entry rules as a measure to prevent gambling addiction, says its management.
Kangwon Land chief executive Ham Seung-huie made the announcement during a government audit hearing at the country’s National Assembly, the Korea Times newspaper reported.
South Korea currently has 17 casinos, but the country’s nationals are only allowed to gamble at one of them – Kangwon Land in an upland area of Kangwon province.
The Korea Times report stated that the casino property was proposing to ban – for up to three months – entry to the property by suspected gambling addicts. The measure could be in place by next year, Mr Ham reportedly said.
According to the newspaper, South Koreans are only allowed to gamble at Kangwon Land for up to 15 days in any given month. Those who visit the property for an aggregate of 30 days in two consecutive months are adjudged as likely to be gambling addicts and are banned from entry. Currently, suspected addicts have the ban immediately lifted after attending a six-hour education programme at a Kangwon Land-run anti-gambling centre, the Korea Times report noted.
Under the proposed new entry rules, gamblers that visit Kangwon Land for 30 days over two consecutive months would be banned from entry for a period of one month. If they were repeat “transgressors”, the ban would be extended to two months and, for a third infraction, to three months, said the report.
All visitors to Kangwon Land are required to provide their personal information – including name, address and date of birth – before being granted entry.
The management of Kangwon Land also said it was mulling increasing to KRW40,000 (US$36) – from KRW9,000 – a casino admission fee payable at the property.
Earlier this year, South Korea’s Board of Audit and Inspection said that regulations in South Korea regarding the entry of locals in casinos were loose compared to jurisdictions such as Singapore.
Singapore imposes on that city-state’s citizens and permanent residents a statutory entry levy of either S$100 (US$73) for 24-hour access, or S$2,000 for a year’s entry; but is content to give foreigners free access. Singapore forbids its two casino resorts from either reimbursing levy fees to players – or offering incentives or complimentary items to locals – in return for customers renewing their yearly permit.
A recent study by South Korea’s state auditor found that a total of 2,165 South Koreans had visited the Kangwon Land casino with a frequency amounting to more than 100 days in the 12-month period up to March. Some 9,566 people had visited the property with a frequency amounting to between 50 and 99 days during the same 12-month period, according to the study findings.
There are currently several new foreigners-only gaming projects under construction in South Korea. But those projects “will have difficulty achieving robust returns on investments” due to the inability to serve local gamblers, Fitch Ratings Inc said in a note in March.
International casino developer Las Vegas Sands Corp has mentioned ambitions for a US$10-billion casino resort in South Korea. But the firm has also hinted that the project could only go ahead if entry by locals were allowed.
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"If the [Macau casino] concessions are put up for bid, there will also be a lot of giant Chinese companies, some having nothing to do with gaming, which would like to take over these enormously successful casinos”
Professor emeritus at Whittier Law School in California, in the United States, and a visiting professor at University of Macau