South Korea’s leading casino Kangwon Land is reeling from a corruption scandal in which 95% of staff turned out to have been hired due to their political connections.
On Tuesday, the state-owned Kangwon Land issued an official statement saying 493 of the 518 people hired between July 2011 and February 2014 had won their jobs primarily on the strength of their ties to politicians or other influential figures.
According to a report in the Korea Times, the company laid most of the blame on Choi Heung-jip, who was Kangwon Land’s CEO during the period in question. Choi and a Kangwon Land human resources official were indicted in 2015 but current government members say the Liberty Korea Party, which was in power at the time of the scandal, pressured prosecutors to end their probe before the full depth of the shenanigans was exposed.
The casino’s statement described the hiring scandal as “a crime which would have been possible only in the 1960s or ‘70s.” The statement apologized that “a thing of the past is tarnishing the image of Kangwon Land, which has been trying hard to improve its transparency in recent years.”
Kangwon Land is the only South Korean casino in which the country’s citizens can legally gamble, which has allowed the casino to routinely post revenue figures that exceed the combined revenue of the other 16 foreigner-only casinos (at least, before the new Paradise City integrated resort opened near Incheon this April).
Kangwon Land came under renewed criticism last year for allegedly not doing enough to mitigate problem gambling behavior by its guests. This led to the property introducing new “cooling off” measures, including hard visitation limits and mandatory ‘time-outs’ for those who exceed those limits.
These measures appear to have had the desired effect, as the casino recently reported its net profit falling 10.7% in the second quarter of 2017 as gaming revenue fell 6% while non-gaming revenue rose 11%.