After the number of COVID-19 infections increased in the country, the South Korean government closed the casinos in the capital Seoul. The increase in infections is generated after almost a week with a rate of infections below 300. To reduce this weekly average, the South Korean authorities decided to impose new restrictions starting this tuesday at noon.
The orderly closure extends to the Seoul, Incheon and Gyeonggi regions and rises to ‘Level 2’ of the government’s pandemic mitigation strategy. At this level, events where more than 100 people participate are prohibited. Establishments such as casinos, bars and nightclubs will have to close completely in the next two weeks.
These tough restrictions are a serious blow to the sector of casinos that are open exclusively for foreigners. Some of the operators received the news last week that they could barely receive 20% of players of their total capacity that in the affected regions they went from Level 1 to Level 1.5 of the pandemic.
Among the affected areas are two land-based casinos owned by the operator Seven Luck, which is run by the state-owned Grand Korea Leisure (GKL). Also two other properties operated by Paradise Co Ltd, the largest private casino operator in the country. This includes the Paradise City Integrated Resort, located in the vicinity of Incheon International Airport.
The operator GKL reported that the closure of its casinos will last until december 8 and the losses estimated by the company exceed KRW5.1 billion (US $ 4.6m).
According to the government, these new measures are necessary to prevent local hospitals from collapsing with coronavirus patients. In addition, the government hopes that due to the outbreak of covid-19, the annual national university entrance exam, scheduled for december 3, where about 500 thousand students are expected to participate, will not have to be rescheduled.
The government restrictions will also cover local racing operations – horses, boats and bicycles – one of the few legal gambling options for local residents. The only casino that South Koreans can play at is Kangwon Land, a strategically located gaming room on a mountain about 200 km north of Seoul.