If you have been following our news at all in recent months, you know all too well that many of the stories have been focusing on casino gaming in Asia. In the past, Asian countries like South Korea and Japan have not been big havens for gamblers, but in recent years the tides have slowly but surely been shifting.
This week, South Korea is set to open the doors to its first casino resort. While this definitely sounds like great news, the timing behind the grand opening could not have been worse. Recent weeks have seen tensions in Asia, particularly as they relate to South Korea and North Korea, rise dramatically. As the South Korean and US militaries participate in coordinated exercises, the hermit kingdom of North Korea has been firing off threats of missile attacks. All of this has resulted in an environment that is not so welcoming to guests. Chinese visitors in particular are not likely to be found in abundance when the casino finally does open its doors this week, and that is a problem. Primarily because gambling tourists from China are expected to bring in sizeable gambling revenues.
While it seems a lot like the recent North Korean missile scare is what is driving Chinese tourists away from South Korea, and the casino’s opening, this is not really the case. Chinese tourists to South Korea have been dropping over the past two months, ever since South Korea acquired a large plot of land to be used for their military’s missile program.
This move was not seen in good light by the Chinese government, which in turn issued a travel ban to South Korea. In March alone, the number of Chinese tourists reported was nearly 40% fewer than the same month a year earlier. This turnaround, while massive, is even more surprising when you consider the fact that January and February saw more Chinese tourists than expected.
This is a big problem for Paradise City casino resort, and most other casinos in the country, as Chinese gambling dollars account for a lot of the gambling revenue brought in by South Korean casinos. You see, by law, most Koreans are not legally allowed to enter the casinos, which exist strictly to serve the needs of guests and visitors. Though there is some talk of lifting this restriction in light of the drop-off in Chinese tourists, nothing has come to fruition quite yet.
Despite all of this, Paradise City is still going to host its grand opening this week. The impressive resort and hotel is located just miles from South Korea’s biggest airport, Incheon International, so it is expected to be nothing short of a massive success, with or without a large Chinese presence.