South Korean casino operator GKL closes third casino amid soaring cases of COVID-19

South Korean casino operator GKL closes third casino amid soaring cases of COVID-19

Casino operator Grand Korea Leisure (GKL), a state-run subsidiary of the Korea Tourism Organization, has confirmed that it has suspended operations at one more casino after the government issued a nationwide alert against the latest wave of the potentially lethal COVID-19 pandemic.

GKL closed its Busan-based Seven Luck Casino after a surge in positive cases of COVID-19 infections. The temporary shutdown will remain in effect until at least the morning of Monday, Dec. 15, 2020. Monday represented the fourteenth consecutive day for the country to record more than 300 new COVID-19 infections. More precisely, a total of 438 new cases were recorded, including 414 local cases.

As the country continues to struggle with third wave of the pandemic, the government raised nationwide alert level. The capital city of Seoul shifted to ‘Level 2’ of the government’s pandemic mitigation strategy, which earlier forced GKL to temporarily close its two other Seven Luck casinos in the capital city.

Thus, GKL has thus far closed at least three of its gambling & entertainment facilities. Previously, the operator’s properties had been operating under a string of restrictions, at just 20 per cent of their normal capacities, under the government’s alert Level 1.5 that was issued in mid-November.

Amid economic uncertainty, GKL has warned investors that the combined impact of the closure of all three of its casinos would result in loss of KRW5.5 billion (US$5 million) in revenue in the third quarter. The figure of loss is based on the facilities’ average daily sales.

However, South Korea’s biggest foreigner-only casino operator, Paradise Co. Ltd., hasn’t followed GKL’s lead in closing its Busan venue. Two of Paradise’s casinos, viz. Walkerhill in Seoul and Paradise City in Incheon, were forced to suspend operations last month when those areas were placed under Level 2 of the government’s pandemic mitigation strategy. .

Paradise also operates a casino in Jeju, which reported revenue of just KRW249 million for last month. The figure represents just a small fraction of nearly KRW10 billion (US$8.85 million) of total revenue that the operator reported for all of its venues last month. Paradise City generated KRW5.8 billion. The figure appears to be big, but it represents a decline of 81.2 per cent year-over-year.

As most of the casinos in the country are reliant on foreign tourists, the pandemic’s impact on international travel is responsible for the major losses being suffered by the gambling & entertainment properties.