On Wednesday, GKL threw open the doors of its three Seven Luck-branded casinos, which have been shut since March 23 to minimize further spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus. The casinos, which cater exclusively to foreign passport holders, are requiring guests to observe social distancing, submit to temperature checks and wear face-masks.
GKL President Yoo Tae-Yeol said the company was doing its best to adapt to the “difficult situation that we have never experienced before.” Yoo also noted that GKL was publicly traded, suggesting that it had an obligation not only to the general public but also to investors.
GKL rival Paradise Co Ltd, which operates four foreigner-only casinos, reopened its venues last month, while Kangwon Land, South Korea’s largest casino operator and the only one in which local residents are allowed to gamble, recently extended its shutdown through May 11.
Kangwon Land originally shut its doors on February 23, expecting to stay closed for only three days, a disruption it said would cost the company KRW11b (US$9m) based on its 2019 average daily revenue.
On Monday, the company said it now expects the total cost of this shutdown to hit a staggering KRW286.8b ($233.7m). For reference, that’s about 19% of Kangwon Land’s total 2019 revenue and around 85% of the company’s 2019 profit.
Kangwon Land’s locals-welcome status gives the company enormous financial benefits over its foreigner-only rivals, but also unique responsibilities. As such, there’s no guarantee that Kangwon Land will open for business on May 12 as currently planned, meaning those staggering costs might go right on rising.