South Korea’s foreigner-only casinos are tipped to reach 50% of 2019 business levels this year, boosted by the anticipated return of tourists from Japan.
In an article for Business Korea, NH Investment & Securities analyst Hazell Lee said the resumption of visa-free travel for Japanese citizens, expected to resume around July, would see “pent-up demand from Japanese VIPs … unleashed from 2H22.”
According to Lee, Japanese visitors accounted for the low-40% range of customers at foreigner-only casinos in South Korea prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, with Chinese customers in the mid-30% range – representing their top two customer sources.
However, while Japanese customers will soon return, “China is adhering to its zero-COVID policy and as its junket regulations remain in effect, it is difficult to expect Chinese VIP demand to return to the pre-pandemic normal this year.”
Lee said the nation’s only casino at which locals are permitted to gamble, Kangwon Land, will therefore recover first, followed by integrated resorts with non-casino facilities that are open to domestic customers and foreigner-exclusive casinos.
“We present Kangwon Land as our sector top pick, where the benefits of expanded operating capacity (operating hours and number of tables) should become visible alongside business normalization from 2H22,” Lee wrote.