Spring came early for South Korean casino operator Paradise Co Ltd., which saw its casino revenue climb by almost 34 percent in March.
Paradise provided little explanation for the robust casino sales when it informed the Korea Exchange on Tuesday that its profit grew to KRW52.19 billion (US$49.5 million) in March 2018, higher than the KRW38.97 billion ($36.63 million) it posted in the previous year period.
Last month’s figure was also 20 percent higher than the KRW43.49 billion ($40.88 million) casino sales it reported in February 2018.
The upswing in revenue was led by casino tables, which grew 35.1 percent year-on-year to nearly KRW48.75 billion ($45.83 million). Paradise Co’s machine gaming revenue was up 18.9 percent to KRW3.44 billion last month.
The revenue results were collated from Paradise’s four foreigners-only casinos: Walkerhill in Seoul; Jeju Grand on Jeju Island; Busan Casino in the southern port city of Busan; and Paradise City in Incheon, near the main international airport serving Seoul.
Meanwhile, Paradise Co’s aggregate casino revenue jumped 19.9 percent year-on-year to KRW149.37 billion ($140.40 million) during the first three months of 2018.
Table revenue for the January-March period was up 19.3 percent to KRW138.57 billion ($130.25 million), while machine revenue rose 26.8 percent to nearly KRW10.80 billion ($10.15 million).
The amount of cash exchanged for chips by customers at the table in Q1 climbed 20 percent year-on-year to just over KRW1.36 trillion ($1.28 billion).
Despite the positive financial report, the question remains whether the financial rally inside Paradise Co signifies the end of China’s travel restrictions to South Korea.
South Korea, particularly Jeju Island, relies on mainland China for inbound tourists. Data from Jeju Tourism Organization (JTO) showed that China accounted for 84 percent of the island’s international tourists in 2016.
However, things changed after South Korea’s former administration allowed the deployment of additional U.S. anti-missile missile systems. Beijing retaliated by imposing a blanket ban on group tours to the country. China appeared to ease off on its Korean travel restrictions late last year, but contradictory reports soon followed.