Jeju Island casinos remain shut to locals after plan shelved

By Charlotte Lee Updated
Jeju Island casinos remain shut to locals after plan shelved

A proposal to allow mainland Koreans to enter foreign only casinos on Jeju Island has been shelved after pressure from locals.

Inside Asian Gaming reports that the South Korean government said it plans to further explore allowing proxy betting within its eight casinos under the second comprehensive plan for the industry.

According to a report, authorities in Jeju will spend much of 2022 researching local perceptions on proxy betting and reviewing how such a system might work in a bid to strengthen the competitiveness of the industry.

Proxy betting is a form of wagering where a person designated a trusted individual as their proxy. 

“This second comprehensive plan aims to overcome the crisis of the Jeju casino industry and create an environment for a new leap forward,” an official said.

Entry to Koreans was planned from November

In November, the government had proposed allowing limited entry to Korean visitors.

Under the plan, local Jeju residents would still have been banned from gambling in Jeju casinos, however tourists from all other areas of South Korea would have been allowed entry for a maximum of 12 days per year.

Proof of identification, including air tickets and boarding passes would also have been required.

This proposal has now been scrapped amid concerns raised by the local community and objections from Gangwon Province, which claimed such a policy would overshadow the purpose of Kangwon Land’s establishment, namely to provide for residents following the closure of mines in the province in 1989.

Jeju’s stance under the Second Jeju Casino Industry Comprehensive Plan is that the island “officially opposes casino gaming for locals”.

“Under the current law, the introduction of casinos exclusively for Koreans is a matter of permission from the Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism,” the official said.

The decision comes as a blow to Jeju’s eight casinos, with data released by the Jeju Island Tourism Association showing that 99.6 per cent of the 12 million tourists to visit Jeju Island in 2021 were from Korea.

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, only three of Jeju’s casinos are open – Landing International Development’s Jeju Shinhwa World, Paradise Co’s Jeju Grand and Lotte Tour’s Jeju Dream Tower.

Illegal gambling activity with ties to the Philippines busted by South Korean cops

An illegal gambling website with ties to the Philippines has been busted by authorities.

South Korean police tracked down a hotel-casino that was used as a base of operations targeting South Korean gamblers.

Some 130 people were taken into custody in South Korea as part of an alleged criminal ring tied to the site.

However, only nine people were arrested, including one individual who reportedly ran the operations.

The website is now dismantled, however, before shutting down the operation had grown quite large, taking in more than $1 billion in wagers in the past two and a half years.

The investigation was overseen by the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency through its international crime investigation unit.

The investigation began in September 2019 after police were tipped off to suspicious activity.

Two years later, police moved in to shut down the operations.

Police uncovered a string of activities that included broadcasting of live sports games from a venue in the Philippines.

This was tied to a sports betting portal run through an unnamed website, with the illegal sportsbook functioning from at least July 2018, if not earlier.

The investigation ultimately linked 150 people. 

The 20 not taken into custody are now wanted suspects that have “red notices” flagged to their identification.

A red notice goes out to all linked law enforcement agencies around the world, notifying them that the individual is wanted for questioning or apprehension.

When the bust was made, police reportedly confiscated around $673,000, which had been received through the criminal enterprise.

The funds were sent using cryptocurrency.

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