Proposal for South Korean foreigner-only casinos to offer remote gambling

Casinos have been deeply affected by the lack of tourists.
Casinos have been deeply affected by the lack of tourists.

Lee Sang-heon, a member of the National Assembly’s Culture, Sports and Tourism Committee, has proposed casinos be allowed to offer online gambling services.

South Korea.- South Korea’s foreigner-only casinos have seen revenues plummet due to the lack of tourists amid the Covid-19 pandemic. Now Lee Sang-heon, a member of the Democratic Party of Korea on the National Assembly’s Culture, Sports and Tourism Committee, has suggested they should be allowed to introduce online gambling services.

According to the Korea Casino Association, South Korea’s foreigner-only casinos recorded aggregate gambling sales of KRW178.29bn (US$151.3m) during the first half of the year. In 2020, the figure was KRW597.8bn, down 60 per cent year-on-year when compared to 2019 when the industry collected a total of KRW1.45tn.

Lee Sang-heon proposed an amendment to the Tourism Promotion Act to help casinos recover part of their aggregate gambling sales. However, according to New Daily, the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism is against allowing remote gambling, as South Korean nationals, could also access it. 

He added that the measure could cause protests from different countries whose citizens may be targeted as clients.

South Korea gaming tax revenue down 82.4% in 2020

South Korean authorities have reported that the collection of gaming taxes declined 82.4 per cent year-on-year in 2020 to KRW81.8bn (US$70.5m).

Tax revenue from Kangwon Land Inc plummeted 83.3 per cent from KRW357.8bn to KRW59.9bn in 2020. However, that figure was twice as much as South Korea’s 16 foreigner-only casinos combined. Kangwon Land accounted for 14.8 per cent of the country’s 2020 gambling tax revenue.

Gaming tax revenue from the rest of the casinos declined 79.7 per cent to KRW21.9bn. South Korean casinos also need to make contributions to a number of funds. In 2020, such donations totalled KRW322.6m.

Kangwon Land alone contributed KRW268.7bn in fund donations during 2020, down 8.2 per cent year-on-year, while the contribution from foreign-only casinos was KRW53.9m, a decrease of 60.7 per cent.

South Korea’s overall tax revenue from gaming in 2020 was KRW404bn, a drop of 82.9 per cent when compared to KRW2.36tn in 2019.

In 2020 South Korean casinos received only 1,760,232 visits, down from 6,128,952 in 2019.

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Covid-19 online gambling