he Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries announced on Tuesday that an ordinance to allow cruise casinos was approved at the latest cabinet meeting.
The ordinance, which was purposely created to support the cruise tourism industry in Korea, will take effect on August 4 but the government assumed that the casino cruise ships operators will need more time to turn their ships into a gambling facility.
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.
The casinos must be equipped with foreign currency exchange booths and an internal computing system accredited by the Tourism Ministry and will be prohibited from operating on South Korea seas.
The government expects the casino cruise ships to generate 1 trillion won (USD 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 facility.
In May, South Korea’s 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 bet.
The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, which issues casino licenses, put a brake on the marine minister’s swift move, saying that nothing has been discussed on allowing the locals to access onboard gambling. The measure also received opposition from the residents of Jeongseon, where Kangwon Land Resort—the only casino in the country that allows Korean to gamble, believing that cruise casinos opening for locals would deal a strong blow to Kangwon Land’s profitability.
The government allowed Kangwon Land to open to locals on conditions that part of its revenue will be used to help ailing former miners and others suffering from financial hardship in the wake of mine closure.