South Korea’s Jeju Island has dumped a proposal to allow mainland Koreans to enter its foreigner-only casinos following pressure from locals and opposition from the Gangwon region, home of Kangwon Land.
But the government said it plans to further explore allowing proxy betting within its eight casinos under the 2nd Jeju Casino Industry Comprehensive Plan (2022-2026), which was unveiled on 5 January. The Jeju Casino Industry Comprehensive Plan is a statutory plan established every five years in accordance with the Jeju-do Casino Management and Supervision Ordinance.
According to a report by Korean-language news outlet Hankook Ilbo, authorities in Jeju will spend much of 2022 researching local perceptions on proxy betting and reviewing how such a system might work in a bid to strengthen the competitiveness of the industry.
“This second comprehensive plan aims to overcome the crisis of the Jeju casino industry and create an environment for a new leap forward,” an official is quoted as saying.
The government had in November also proposed allowing limited entry to Korean visitors. Under the proposal, local Jeju residents would still have been banned from gambling in Jeju casinos, however tourists from all other areas of South Korea would have been allowed entry for a maximum of 12 days per year – once per month. Proof of identification, including air tickets and boarding passes, would also have been required.
This proposal has now been scrapped – for now at least – amid concerns raised by the local community and objections from Gangwon Province, which claimed such a policy would overshadow the purpose of Kangwon Land’s establishment, namely to provide for residents following the closure of mines in the province in 1989.
Jeju’s stance under the 2nd Jeju Casino Industry Comprehensive Plan (2022-2026) is that the island “officially opposes [casino gaming for locals]”.
“Under the current law, the introduction of casinos exclusively for Koreans is a matter of permission from the Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism,” the official said.
The decision comes as a blow to Jeju’s eight casinos, with data released by the Jeju Island Tourism Association this week showing that 99.6% of the 12 million tourists to visit Jeju Island in 2021 were from Korea. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic only three of Jeju’s casinos are currently open – Landing International Development’s Jeju Shinhwa World, Paradise Co’s Jeju Grand and Lotte Tour’s Jeju Dream Tower.