South Korea’s foreigner-only casinos posted weaker turnover in 2017 as the brick-and-mortar facilities welcomed fewer visitors last year.
Latest figures from the country’s National Gambling Control Commission (NGCC) showed that turnover of foreigner-only casinos fell by 5.37 percent to less than KRW1.21 trillion (US$1.09 billion) in 2017. The NGCC did not provide a reason for the slump but the agency noted a decline in the number of casino visitors.
The number of visitors who trooped to South Korea‘s 16 foreigner-only casinos dropped by 6.22 percent to 2.22 million visitors last year. According to the NGCC, foreigner-only casinos account for 5.56 percent of the country’s total gaming turnover.
South Korean casino operator Paradise Co. Ltd., which operates four foreigner-only casinos, including the country’s first major integrated resort Paradise City, took a beating in 2017 thanks to the ongoing diplomatic tensions with China.
Paradise reported a full-year revenue decline of KRW551.8 billion ($516.5 million) as the flood of Chinese tourists to its gaming facilities in Jeju ebbed following Beijing’s decision in early 2017 to restrict Chinese group tours to South Korea to protest the deployment of a U.S. missile system on Korean soil.
Like Paradise, net profit of South Korea’s second largest foreigners-only casino operator Grand Korea Leisure (GKL) plunged by 29.7 percent to KRW80.54 billion ($74.1 million) in 2017 as China’s restrictions on package tours to Korea remained in place.
Turnover of South Korea’s foreigner-only casinos has been mixed for the past three years, making it hard to predict whether the trend will continue through 2018. In 2015, the foreigner-only casinos saw a turnover decline of 9.7 percent. In 2016, the brick-and-mortar facilities recorded a 2.6 percent increase in turnover.
However, based on the turnover figures that Paradise and GKL reported over the first five months of 2018, it is safe to say that South Korea’s foreigner-only casinos are on track for a positive result.