Macau’s casino industry used to enlist special junket operators whose main role was to target VIP gamblers from Mainland China and bring them over to Macau’s casinos. These VIP gamblers accounted for more than fifty percent of revenue generated by Macau’s casinos. Beijing’s anti-corruption crackdown has scared away the majority of VIP gamblers and junket operators have reported a steep decline in business.
Casinos in neighbouring countries like South Korea, the Philippines and Vietnam have been quick to seize this opportunity and target VIP gamblers in Mainland China. South Korea’s casinos have come up with a number of attractive schemes to lure gamblers from Mainland China and promote the gambling industry in South Korea.
Authorities in Macau recently arrested a total of 13 South Korean casino workers who were accused of running a campaign to lure gamblers to South Korea. South Korea’s is just a couple of hours by flight from China and these 13 casino workers were suspected of working for Paradise Co Ltd and Grand Korea Co Ltd (GKL). The authorities also arrested a number of junket operators who were suspected of being in collaboration with South Korean casinos and helping them build their business.
South Korea currently has a total of 17 casinos and only one of these casinos allows locals to gamble. All the other casinos cater specifically to tourists as the gambling law in South Korea does not allow locals to gamble. The growth of the South Korean casino industry is directly related to tourism and is also one of the reasons why casinos are willing to campaign aggressively and target gamblers from Mainland China. The Paradise Co Ltd has denied allegations that the casino workers arrested were a part of their payroll.
The 13 casino employees were accused of luring Chinese gamblers with an attractive package that included an airport pickup and drop, free hotel accommodation, customized casino tours along with special entertainment facilities. Chinese authorities had earlier banned all advertisements from gambling establishments that promoted casinos outside of China and is one of the main reasons why casinos might resort to sending marketing consultants directly into Macau to source new customers.
The South Korean government has encouraged tourism from China and expects around 10 million tourists each year from the Mainland starting from 2020. The casinos in South Korea are not going after the usual VIP clientele in Macau but are interested in mass market gamers as they believe the market has a lot of potential in South Korea.