South Korea’s largest casino Kangwon Land is extending its temporary shutdown as the country’s coronavirus crisis worsens.
Last weekend, Kangwon Land announced that it would shut its gaming operations from noon on Sunday (23) to 6am on Wednesday (26) in response to the government’s declaration of its highest possible alert regarding the COVID-19 coronavirus.
On Tuesday, Kangwon Land announced that it was extending this shutdown until 6am on Saturday (29) “due to growing concern about community infections.” South Korea has experienced a dramatic rise in the number of viral infections this week, bringing the total number of exposures to nearly 1,300 and the number of deaths to 11, the largest outbreak outside China, the COVID-19 ground zero.
Kangwon Land emphasized that it had not recorded any infections among either guests or staff but said the company was “intensively” carrying out “additional protection and disinfection” of its gaming area to prepare for the casino’s eventual reopening.
Based on its 2019 daily revenue, Kangwon Land estimates that the shutdown will cost the company around KRW22b (US$18.1m). That’s twice the sum the company estimated in its original loss forecast and, given the rapidly rising viral tally, there’s a very good chance the shutdown will extend past Saturday.
Kangwon Land is the only South Korean casino in which local residents are allowed to gamble, so the shutdown leaves local gamblers with no legal options for most of this week. Worse, South Korea’s growing infection count has convinced some other Asia-Pacific casino markets to prohibit travel to or from the country, so gamblers can’t even hop on a plane to scratch their gambling itch.
The shutdown spoils the strong momentum Kangwon Land had been enjoying after a strong performance in 2019, during which revenue rose 5.7% to KRW1.52t ($1.25b), operating profit was up 16.6% to KRW522b and net profit gained 12.7% to KRW353.5b. The company credited the gains to a wholesale refresh of its electronic gaming machine lineup and strict cost-cutting efforts.