South Korea to ease casino regulations

    South Korea will lower regulations for building integrated resorts incorporating a wide range of tourist content with gaming facilities to help boost its economy and tourism industry, the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism said Tuesday, local press reported. 

    In a meeting of the trade and investment promotion committee presided over by President Park Geun-hye, the tourism ministry said it will support mega resort projects under way on Yeongjong Island, the nation’s main gateway, and the southern resort island of Jeju, and ease casino license rules to draw more foreign investment, Yonhap agency reported.

    “Asian nations such as Macau and Singapore are competitively building global resort complexes to attract foreign tourists, but South Korea has fallen behind in building world-class casinos,” the ministry said in its report. “We will look at the ongoing resort projects and form a task force team to help resolve their difficulties.”

    South Korea has been strict in issuing casino licenses on concerns over gambling addiction, but the government has recently eased up, hoping to take a share in the rapidly expanding Chinese gambling market.

    Market watchers also saw a promising growth potential in South Korea’s casino industry, citing its proximity to China and rising popularity of its pop culture.

    “Macau’s casino industry has rapidly grown in the last decade, while South Korea has recently seen a big surge of revenue from Chinese tourists,” Kim Yoon-jin, an analyst at Daishin Securities Co., said. “South Korea is expected to see a jump in the casino industry in the next five years.”