Korean cruise casino operations for foreign passengers will be possible as early as next year.
The Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries unveiled on July 28 that an ordinance to permit cruise casinos was approved at the latest cabinet meeting. The ordinance will come into effect from Aug. 4, but the government authorities assume more time is needed for actual operations.
Several companies have expressed their interest in joining the operation. According to the ordinance, the cruise operator should have an “investment appropriate” grade given by credit-rating institutions. The size of the casino is limited to less than 2,600 square meters for 100,000+ ton vessels, and less than 1,300 square meters for vessels smaller than 100,000 tons. The casinos also must be equipped with foreign currency exchange booths and an internal computing system accredited by the Tourism Ministry.
The government expects the ordinance to pave the way for more than five local cruise operators to create 1 trillion won (US$864 million) in economic effects, including creating 8,000 new jobs by 2020.
Market observers say, however, that it may have a smaller impact than expected, since only foreigners can access the casinos, with Koreans still restricted in the access. The casinos are also banned from operating on the seas of South Korea.
In May this year, ocean and maritime affairs Minister Yoo Ki-june appealed to allow Koreans to play games in order to secure profits for the operators, but the Tourism Ministry deferred the decision for fear that the permission might create a public backlash if it is seen as encouraging gambling. Currently Kangwonland Resort Casino in Jeongseon-gun, Gangwon Province, is the only gambling location that Korean citizens can access.