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Kangwon Land, Grand Korea Leisure expecting hefty losses as South Korea increases COVID-19 alert levels again

Kangwon Land – the only South Korea casino at which locals are allowed to gamble – and leading foreigner-only casino operator Grand Korea Leisure have both warned of growing losses over the coming weeks after the government on Monday increased the nation’s COVID-19 alert levels for the third week in a row.

From Tuesday, Korea’s capital city of Seoul, the surrounding Gyeonggi Province and Incheon will all see their COVID-19 alert levels rise from 2 to 2.5 – shutting down thousands of businesses and banning all gatherings of 50 people or more.

Gyms and karaoke rooms, which had been allowed to stay open under level 2 restrictions, must now close while bars and nightclubs that allow dancing will also close.

There is no requirement for casinos to close, with Paradise Co – operator of Paradise Walkerhill in Seoul and Paradise City in Incheon – telling Inside Asian Gaming that its properties would remain open for now.

However, fellow foreigner-only casino operator Grand Korea Leisure, which had already suspended operations at its two casinos within the Seoul metropolitan area – Gangnam COEX and Gangbuk Millenium Seoul Hilton – until 8 December and Seven Luck Casino in Busan Lotte Hotel until 15 December, announced Monday that all three would now remain closed until at least 29 December.

The company said in a filing that it expected to record a loss of casino net sales of around KRW 13.6 billion (US$12.5 million) for the closure period based on average daily net sales from July to September 2020.

The remainder of the country will see its alert level increase to level 2, limiting gatherings to less than 100 and placing restrictions on the opening hours of restaurants and indoor sports venues.

In response, Kangwon Land – Korea’s only casino for locals and located at the foot of a ski and golf resort in a remote area of Gangwon Province – said Monday it estimated a loss of sales during the holiday period of KRW1 billion per day due to “increased social distancing related to COVID-19 under level 2.”

Kangwon Land has been forced to suspend casino operations twice this year, most recently reopening in mid-October having estimated a loss in sales for the period of around KRW62.7 billion (US$53.7 million).

The latest restrictions come after South Korea reported 631 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday, the nation’s highest in nine months, with some experts predicting that number could reach around 900 over the next week.

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