10 Years Ago: Opportunity Knocks

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In this new regular feature in IAG to celebrate 16 years covering the Asian gaming and leisure industry, we look back at our cover story from exactly 10 years ago, titled Opportunity knocks, to rediscover what was making the news in July 2011!

Hindsight is a wonderful thing. It was 10 years ago this month that Inside Asian Gaming reported murmurings from South Korea that authorities were looking to open up the countrys gaming market both domestically and internationally.

On the domestic level, it had been suggested that South Koreas slate of foreigner-only casinos might be opened up to local players, with the Minister of Culture, Sport and Tourism stating, I will look for ways to allow locals to enter casinos. Im not sure if I will be able to accomplish this during my term but I will push ahead with the project.

Fast forward a decade and Kangwon Land, opened in October 2000, remains the only casino in South Korea at which locals are allowed to gamble: a devastating blow to the 16 foreigner-only casinos currently flailing as the COVID-19 pandemic prevents any significant international travel.

Incheon, South Korea

There was one other proposal on the cards in July 2011 that did see the light of day, however. According to IAGs report, it was proposed at the time that South Korea issue licenses for between two and five international IRs as a means of driving tourism. Despite some speedbumps along the way, that initiative is well on the way to becoming reality, with Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment due to open Inspire Korea in Incheon in early 2023 and another project until recently overseen by Caesars scheduled to open not long after. Jeju island is also home to the expansive Jeju Shinhwa World and the recently launched Jeju Dream Tower.

Perhaps in another 10 years time the dream of widespread locals gaming might have become a reality too.