S. Korea 2020 casino bet turnover dips 58pct to US$535mln

S. Korea 2020 casino bet turnover dips 58pct to US$535mln

Gambling turnover at South Korea’s foreigner-only casinos for full-year 2020 fell by 58.7 percent from the prior-year period, coinciding with the Covid-19 pandemic, according to data from the Korea Casino Association (KCA), an industry trade body. Such 2020 gambling turnover was KRW595.4 billion (US$534.8 million), compared to just under KRW1.45 trillion in 2019.

The decrease coincided with an approximately 64-percent decline year-on-year in the aggregate of visits to South Korea’s 16 foreigner-only casinos, according to the data released. The association didn’t give a precise number for 2020 visits, but in 2019 industry-wide, the tally was 3,233,761, according to data from the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, issued in April 2020.

On February 9, Grand Korea Leisure Co Ltd (GKL), one operator in South Korea of foreigner-only casinos, reported to the Korea Exchange a loss of almost KRW64.33 billion, versus a 2019 profit of nearly KRW72.40 billion.

Paradise Co Ltd, another foreigner-only casino group, reported recently that its gambling sales fall 57.2 percent year-on-year in calendar-year 2020, from nearly KRW784.06 billion to nearly KRW335.29 billion.

Kangwon Land Inc, operator of the Kangwon Land resort, the only authorised provider in that country regarding casino gaming to South Korean nationals, had reported on February 15, that accumulated sales for full-year 2020 that fell by 68.5 percent year-on-year, to nearly KRW478.58 billion.

The company said in a filing to the Korea Exchange that it booked a net loss of KRW275.86 billion in 2020, compared to a profit of nearly KRW334.66 billion in 2019. Its data is not included in the Korea Casino Association numbers.

Due to Covid-19 countermeasures, many South Korean casinos have had several suspensions of operations recently, beginning in early 2020.

According to South Korean news outlet Chosun Biz, the country’s casino sector has been complaining to the national government about the latter’s alleged lack of support during the pandemic. Cited as an example was the fact that the central authorities had not exempted during the crisis – and the related sharp decline in inbound tourists – payment of the “Tourism Promotion and Development Fund” fees due from the industry.

South Korean casinos paid approximately KRW300 billion (US$269.2 million) to that mandatory fund in 2019. The deadline for 2020 payments to the fund is under “a grace period” currently, according to Chosun Biz.

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