The Kangwon Land casino is the only gaming facility in South Korea that allows locals to gamble as the remaining 16 other gaming facilities in the country are only permitted to allow foreigners access to the gaming floor.
One of the main reasons why legislators in South Korea have been reluctant to allow locals to play across all casinos is due to the perception that such a move would have a negative impact on locals as it would result in an increase in gambling addictions and other social concerns. Local media outlet, Korea Bizwire recently published a report showing that there has been an increase in the number of gamblers in 2016 who have decided to voluntarily place themselves on the Kangwon Land casino’s no gambling list.
Korea Bizwire allegedly spoke to contacts within the Kangwon Land Addiction Care Center who revealed that in 2012 there were 3,484 gamblers on the voluntary exclusion list and that number had rise to more than 25 percent in 2016, to reach 4,440.  The current ban allows local gamblers to request for self-exclusion thrice and the duration of the ban would run for maximum of three years. Should they request a fourth time for a self-exclusion, the casino will then be forced to ban them for life.
When a local gambler asks to be put on the self-exclusion list, gaming laws require the Kangwon Land casino to give the gambler approximately $88 in cash in order for them to make their way home. The casino is involved in a number of problem gambling initiatives that aims to educate gamblers on identifying signs of problem gambling and the measures that the casino has in place to help them combat any such gambling issues.
Korea Bizwire reports that Kangwon Land casino also has in place a trial program that is more flexible but at the same time a more stringent. The program allows gamblers to put themselves on a list where they will be banned from the casino for up to 14 days each month. Should they ask to be included on this list, they cannot make changes again and lift the ban on the number of days.
The casino will also give these gamblers up to $450 to enable them to get help and be treated for problem gambling. According to the local media outlet, Kangwon Land has confirmed that as of April 10, there were a total of 164 problem gamblers enrolled in the trial program. The fact that there has been an increase in the number of problem gamblers on the self-exclusion list is both good and bad news for the South Korean casino industry.
It’s good news because it shows that the casino’s initiatives to prevent problem gambling are working and problem gamblers are taking advantage of the programs on offer.  However, it also shows that problem gambling is growing in South Korea and that will provide anti-gambling opponents with further ammunition to fight the casino industry.
The South Korean casino industry has grown rapidly during the last three years and the collapse of Macau’s gaming industry played a role in boosting gaming revenues in South Korea as gamblers from Mainland China found South Korea easily accessible and more gaming friendly than Macau.
A number of international gaming operators have expressed interest in investing huge amounts of money into South Korea’s casino industry but most of these gaming operators want the government to lift the ban on locals and give them access to gamble at other casinos apart from Kangwon Land. This will enable other gaming operators to woo foreigners and locals thereby expanding their market share and helping them increase their gaming revenues.
However, the government has been reluctant to push a bill through and the reported increase in Kangwon Land’s problem gambling list is likely to hinder any move to pass a bill that will allow locals to gamble at casinos across the country. The Kangwon Land casino has also had a tough start to 2016 as Morgan Stanley reported that the casino saw its revenue drop to levels recorded back in 2014.  Analysts from Morgan Stanley believe that the decline in revenue is due to the political crisis in South Korea and the decisions which followed as it had repercussions on Kangwon Land Inc, the parent company of the casino.

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