S. Korea OKs Casino Cruises

The South Korean Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries has authorized casino gaming on cruise ship. The new law takes effect this week, but actual operations may not begin until later, possibly as late as 2016.

No interest in legalizing locals

The government of South Korea has approved casino gaming aboard cruise ships. Several cruise operators have already expressed interest in adding gaming to their ships.

The ordinance mandates that any vessels weighing more than 100,000 tons vessel may feature a gaming hall no larger than 2,600 square meters (almost 28,000 square feet). Smaller ships would be limited to 1,300 square meters or less, according to the Casino News Daily. Each casino would be equipped with currency exchange booths as well as computing systems accredited by the Tourism Ministry.

The ships are banned from operating on the seas of South Korea, and only foreigners are allowed to board and play.

The government predicts that by 2020, up to five operators should add KRW1 trillion (US$851 million) to the country and generate 8,000 jobs.

“Several companies have already expressed their interest and we are expecting the first vessel to cruise as early as next year,” ministry official Han Dong-soo told the Korea Herald.

Though Oceans Minister Yoo Ki-june has recommended allowing Koreans to play to increase profits, the Tourism Ministry says such a measure would likely generate “a public backlash.” Currently Kangwonland Resort casino in remote Jeongseon, Gangwon Province, is the only gaming room which allows Korean players.

“The ministry is in no talks to push for admission of Koreans to casinos,” Oceans ministry official Han said.