A minority political party in North Jeolla province in South Korea has resurrected the notion of casino development on the coast there as part of an effort to woo more tourists and stimulate economic growth.
Korea Bizwire reported on Tuesday that the Bareunmirae Party – characterised by pundits as being centre-right in its political outlook – wanted to see a casino that could be open to locals.
“Building a casino will become a turning point for growth in North Jeolla province,” the political grouping was quoted as saying.
The area earmarked for such a scheme is reported to be a marine reclamation zone known as Saemangeum (pictured), at the mouth of a river estuary that is managed by a dam.
Reportedly the trigger for the Bareunmirae Party’s statement was an announcement that the country’s Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries was to designate the Saemangeum area as a special zone for marine leisure and tourism.
Korea Bizwire said an organisation called Korean Federation for Environmental Movements subsequently issued a statement accusing the Barunmirae Party of “distorting the facts to make it seem like the government is actually planning to build a casino in the Saemangeum area to boost marine tourism”.
Currently South Korea has 17 casinos, but only one – run by Kangwon Land Inc – is permitted to offer casino services to locals. Its venue, Kangwon Land, is located in a remote upland area of Kangwon province.
The idea of some casino development in North Jeolla – a largely agricultural province in the southwest of the country – emerged in early 2015. At that time the discussion was for a foreigner-only venue.
Then in August 2016 it was reported that gaming proponents wanted a casino in the province where locals would be permitted to wager. They presented to the national authorities a revising bill to that effect.
Days after that news, Kangwon Land issued a statement saying it would oppose such a move.
The idea of casino development in North Jeolla was reportedly suspended in 2016 when the National Assembly adjudged that public opinion was against such an initiative.
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”I do not believe that this event [the collapse of a under-construction building in Sihanoukville] will slow down the issuance of [gaming] licences. Market forces will probably dictate the process as developers evaluate projected future demand for gaming in the region”
Senior partner at business consultancy Global Market Advisors