UPDATE 2-25-2016: Mohegan–KCC Consortium wins license.

South Korea currently has a total of 17 operational casinos and only one that is allowed to provide gaming services to South Koreans, as the government has adopted a strict no gambling policy for locals in the other 16 casinos.

The South Korean government has encouraged companies to invest into the casino industry and build more casinos. A number of companies have been interested in this offer and have applied for a casino license, which is currently being reviewed by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism. The ministry is expected to issue two casino licenses and will announce the names of the winners most likely before the end of the month.

The ministry confirmed in November 2016 that it had received a total of 6 proposals that targeted three specific regions in South Korea. The region most in demand was Yeongjong Island which is very close to the Incheon International Airport and acts as the gateway to the western world. Four out of the six establishments want to secure a casino license for Yeongjong Island, while one establishment targeted Jinhae, which is a port city in the south eastern part of the country and one in Yeosu, which is a global party city in the south western part of the country.

The South Korean government had issued a number of stipulations that had to be met by gambling providers if they wanted to obtain a casino license. Some of those stipulations included being able to invest a minimum of one trillion won or the equivalent of $811.5 million and out of this amount, at least $500 million should be generated by foreign investors.

The casino resort must be a five star property and have a minimum of 1,000 hotel rooms, a shopping area, convention center and high end entertainment facilities. The government has also imposed a restriction on the gaming floor space stating that it should not exceed more than five percent of the total floor gross area.

Even though there is a no gambling policy for locals, South Korea’s casino industry has continued to grow at a rapid pace thanks to the increase in tourism. One of the biggest contributions to the gambling industry is the influx of tourists from Mainland China who are lured to South Korean casinos by junket operators who offer them exciting casino packages that are a lot more attractive than the ones being offered by casinos in Vietnam and the Philippines.

The two gambling establishments who are considered to be the front runners in securing these casino licenses are Hong Kong based Imperial Pacific who has teamed up with a well known local construction company Daewoo Engineering & Construction Co, and U.S tribal casino operator Mohegan Sun who has partnered with KCC Corp, a South Korean chemical company. Out of the four sites, Yeongjong Island will most likely get approval due to its proximity to Mainland China and its ability to attract a large number of tourists from the western world and Asia.