South Korean casinos remain closed until mid-February

By Charlotte Lee Updated
South Korea to play a big role in COVID-recovery for gambling in Asia

A number of South Korean foreigner-only casinos will remain closed until February 15.

Asgam reports that Grand Korea Leisure has extended the closure period of its three casinos in Seoul and Busan.

The extension comes after the government confirmed that current COVID-19 restrictions aimed at curbing the latest outbreak of the virus would be retained for another two weeks.

Those restrictions include maintaining a Level 2.5 alert, the second highest of South Korea’s five alert tiers, across Greater Seoul.

A Level 2 alert is in place for the rest of the country.

South Korea recorded 305 new COVID-19 cases last Monday, its fewest number of cases in two months.

Although the situation is gradually improving, the extended alerts mean there is no immediate reopening in sight for GKL with Gangnam COEX, Gangbuk Millennium Seoul Hilton and Seven Luck Casino in Busan Lotte all closed until at least February 15.

Both Seoul properties suspended operations on November 24 and the Busan casino on December 1 in response to rising COVID-19 numbers, which soared past 1,000 new infections per day in December.

GKL said Monday it currently anticipates a loss in casino sales of US$29.2 million for the extended closure period based on average net sales from July to September 2020.

Fellow foreigner-only casino operator Paradise Co continues to operate its casino in Seoul, Busan and Incheon, having briefly closed Paradise Walkerhill in Seoul in December.

Caesars under pressure to finish South Korea casino

Caesars Entertainment is racing to finish an integrated resort project in South Korea or risk forfeiting its licence. reported in December that the casino giant is rushing to finish its Midan City resort on Yeonjong Island.

Construction of the $700 million project has been halted since February 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Nevada-based gaming company has committed $140 million to the project and is partnering on it with China’s Guangzhou R&F Properties.

But additional financing has been hard to procure.

Just 25 per cent of the construction work is complete.

Reports surfaced last week that authorities in Seoul are growing tired of the lack of progress on the endeavour and are giving Caesars two months to get its house in order or risk losing the gaming permit.

The US gaming company was approved for the project in 2014.

Caesars Korea is designed to be a foreigners only casino with more than 720 rooms, suites and villas.

Caesars Korea Composite Resort is the entity that controls the project and that firm owns the land free and clear as of June 2018.

Caesars isn’t the only US-based operator encountering some headwinds in South Korea.

Last August, Mohegan Gaming and Entertainment said it plans to open its multi billion dollar casino resort in South Korea at Incheon International Airport in the second half of 2022.

That venue, dubbed Inspire, is now slated to open in early 2023, with the tribal gaming giant saying it expects to wrap financing on the endeavour this year.

There are significant differences between MGE and Caesars when it comes to international expansion though.

Mohegan views markets outside the US as integral to its success and is putting its money where its mouth is.

In addition to the South Korea venture, MGE is working on an integrated resort in Athens, Greece.

Back to top