South Korea has given the go-ahead for cruise ships to operate onboard casinos for foreign guests, , reports the Korea Joongang Daily newspaper.
South Korean cruise vessels voyaging overseas will be able to operate casinos on board – but casino admission will be only for foreign passengers from as early as next year.
“The ministry is in no talks to push for admission of Koreans to [such] casinos,” said Han Dong-soo, an official at the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries
, as quoted in comments to the Korea Herald newspaper
. The ministry has been taking the lead on the casino cruises initiative.
"We are currently seeking to support cruise operators to go for onboard casinos. Several companies have already expressed their interest and we are expecting the first vessel to cruise as early as next year," Dong-soo said.
The ordinance, which was purposely created to support the cruise tourism industry in South Korea, will take effect August 4 but the government assumed that the casino cruise ships operators will need more time to turn their ships into gambling facilities.
According to the ordinance, the cruise operator should have an “investment appropriate” grade given by credit-rating institutions. The size of the casino will be limited to 2,600 square meters for 100,000+ ton vessels and less than 1,300 square meters for vessels smaller than 100,000 tons.
Each shipboard casino should have a foreign currency exchange booth and accounting systems accredited by the tourism ministry.
The government expects the casino cruise ships to generate 1 trillion won ($864m) and to create 8,000 new jobs by 2020 but analysts said that it may have a smaller impact than expected since the locals are still not allowed to enter such gambling facilities.
In May, Oceans and Fisheries Minister Yoo Ki-june decided to make an amendment to allow locals to enter the casino cruise ships and play for a limited number of hours and amount of bets.
Some major overseas cruise companies – such as Genting Hong Kong Ltd’s Star Cruises – operate shipboard casinos that only open once the vessel is in international waters.
South Korea has a booming casino industry that continues to grow with every passing year. There are currently a total of 17 casinos in South Korea and only one of those casinos allows South Korean nationals