South Korean casino operator Paradise Co Ltd saw its revenue take a hit in 2017 thanks to ongoing diplomatic tensions with China.
On Friday, Paradise alerted the Korea Exchange that its casino revenue in the month of December totaled KRW 51.8b (US $48.5m), a 16.7% improvement from December 2016. Table revenue improved nearly 20% to KRW 49.2b while machine gaming fell 21.3% to KRW 2.6b.
However, December’s gains weren’t enough to turn around a disappointing 2017, in which full-year revenue declined 8.6% to KRW 551.8b ($516.5m). The decline reverses gains made in 2016, during which revenue came in 6.2% higher than 2015’s KRW 570b.
The 2017 decline was entirely due to table games, which reported revenue falling 9.2% to KRW 515.4b, despite table drop rising 5% year-on-year. Paradise played a little luckier with its electronic gaming operations, which improved 1.4% to KRW 36.4b.
Paradise operates four foreigner-only casinos, including Paradise City (pictured) in Incheon, which became the country’s first major integrated resort when it opened last April. Paradise’s recent statement didn’t break out venue-specific numbers, but claimed in its Q3 earnings report that Paradise City had already reached the operating profit “breakeven point.”
Paradise also operates the Jeju Grand casino on Jeju island, home to half of South Korea’s casinos. Jeju was a popular stop for gambling tourists from China, but this flood slowed to a trickle last year following the controversial deployment of US anti-missile systems. China appeared to ease off on its Korean travel restrictions late last year, but contradictory reports soon followed, leaving no one the wiser as to what 2018 may bring.
Prior to China shutting off the tourism taps, Jeju’s local government planned construction of a major new airport to handle the expected tripling of tourism volume to 45m annual guests by 2035. However, local residents have vigorously protested the project, claiming the tourist influx benefits a few resort companies at the expense of the masses.