Kangwon Land a Q1 star; plan to let locals gamble in cruise casinos in doubt

south-korea-casino-cruise-planSouth Korean casino Kangwon Land generated higher revenue and even bigger profits in Q1.

Total revenue in the first three months of 2015 was up 14% to a record KRW 425.4b (US $388.4m). Of this, 93% came from gaming, which rose 15% to KRW 96b while non-gaming revenue inched up 4.4% to KRW 29.7b. Net profit rose 24.9% to KRW 132.2b ($120.7m).

Kangwon Land is unique among South Korea’s 17 casinos in that it’s the only one that accepts South Korean gamblers. Despite its remote mountainous location roughly 200km from Seoul, the property generated revenue of KRW 1.4t in 2014, more than the other 16 foreigners-only casinos combined.

Kangwon Land’s individual metrics were up across the board in Q1, including a 14.5% gain in table drop. Membership Club revenue was up 14.2% to KRW 73.8b, while mass tables rose 9.9% to KRW 184b and slots rose 23.5% to KRW 138.9b. Total visitors during the quarter were up 7.5% while international visitors rose 10.9%.

South Korea’s Oceans and Fisheries Minister Yoo Ki-june visits Shanghai on Wednesday in a bid to drum up business for the nation’s cruise industry. In January, the government passed legislation allowing domestic cruise ships to add casinos to their entertainment palette. Earlier this month, Yoo’s ministry announced that these shipboard casinos would be ‘open’, i.e. open to local residents.

Not long after that statement, an official from the Culture Ministry – the folks in charge of issuing gaming licenses – said no one had discussed this plan with them. The official claimed it would take “considerable time to draw a public consensus” on the idea of letting locals gamble on the high seas.

The Culture Ministry reportedly fears the ripple effect of such a decision. The Korea Herald quoted an unidentified ‘industry insider’ saying that if locals were allowed to gamble onboard, the large integrated resorts being built near Incheon and on Jeju would “call for the equal treatment.”