South Korea is on its way to becoming the second most important gambling hub in Asia with Macau being the first. Now that VIP and high stake gamblers from Mainland China are willing to travel overseas to play, South Korea is targeting such gamblers and luring them to their casinos. There are currently 17 casinos in South Korea and only Kangwon Land Casino & Hotel in distant Sabuk-eup, Gangwon province allows Koreans to gamble.
Busan is the second biggest city in South Korea and has a population of 3.5 million people. The Mayor of Busan, Suh Byung Soo is looking for new ways to develop and promote his city so that tourist numbers will go up. The city’s airport will soon reach capacity and the mayor wants any new regional airport to be built in Busan.
Suh Byung Soo also wants an integrated casino resort in his city and states that he is currently working on gathering enough support to submit a proposal pushing for the gambling laws in Korean to be changed. Some reports say he may submit a proposal to change Korea’s gambling laws as soon as June.
Las Vegas Sands approached the South Korean government earlier this year with a proposal to construct a mega casino-resort in the city of Busan that is estimated to be over $6 billion. The proposal has a conditional clause in which Sands owner Sheldon Adelson states that he is willing to set up a $6 billion dollar resort if the South Korean government is willing to allow locals to gamble at the casino. Adelson is clear that he does not want to set up another casino to target tourists only as he believes the most profitable way forward is to allow access to local gamblers.
While the South Korean government is happy to see foreign investment flow in, they are not likely to make an amendment to their existing gambling laws. If the South Korean government makes an exception and allows locals to gamble at the Las Vegas Sands casino then other casinos will apply pressure on the government to grant them the same privilege. Should the government allow locals to start playing the casinos, they will take in a lot more revenue in taxes and be able to invest back into the development of South Korea.