South Korea’s Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism has informed Kangwon Land Co Ltd it will be granted permission to extend its operating hours and open more gaming tables once the mass gaming floor reopens after extending its casino license for another three years.
Kangwon Land, the only Korean casino in which locals are allowed to gamble, reopened its VIP floor on 8 May after closing the entire property for almost three months due to COVID-19. The company said at the time that it estimated total losses during the closure to be KRW267.8 billion (US$218.6 million) based on average daily casino sales in 2019.
In a Tuesday filing to the Korea Exchange, Kangwon Land revealed it has now been notified of changes to its permissions for casino operations, including an extension of opening hours from 18 hours to 20 hours per day and an increase in tables from 160 to 180.
“The operating plan due to the changed business hours and the increase in the number of general business tables will be discussed separately with the Ministry,” it added.
In a note, JP Morgan’s DS Kim, Derek Choi and Jeremy An said, “In our view, this signals that the regulatory environment for Kangwon is turning more favorable, which is not totally surprising (given the unprecedented downturn from COVID-19), but is still a meaningfully positive development.
“We also note that the license renewal came in earlier than the original schedule (typically in December), which suggests that the urgency of normalizing Kangwon’s business is well understood by the government.
“From what we understand, the increased capacity and operating hours will stick throughout the license term until the end of 2023, which will be a boon for this (severely) capacity-constrained casino for coming years.”
Located around 150km from Seoul in Gangwon Province, Kangwon Land is 51% owned by the government with the remaining 49% floated on the Korea Exchange.