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Remote gambling proposed for foreigner casinos in S. Korea

Loss of sales at South Korea’s foreigner-only casinos due to travel restrictions linked to the Covid-19 pandemic, means that sector should be allowed to introduce remote gambling for overseas customers, says one of the country’s lawmakers.

Lee Sang-heon, a member of the National Assembly’s Culture, Sports and Tourism Committee, and who represents the Democratic Party of Korea, made the suggestion, according to South Korean media reports.

According to the Korea Casino Association, a trade body, South Korea’s 16 foreigner-only casinos recorded aggregate gambling sales of KRW178.29 billion (US$151.3 million) in the first half this year.

For full-year 2020, such sales were KRW597.8 billion. In 2019, full-year sales were KRW1.45 trillion, so the 2020 tally was down nearly 60 percent year-on-year.

Representative Lee proposed the partial amendment of the Tourism Promotion Act in April to introduce remote casino services for foreigners.

The reports did not clarify if that meant so-called ‘proxy gambling’, whereby a designated person bets on a live table game on behalf of someone not physically present in the casino; or whether it meant live streaming via video, of table or other games, to players watching online.

According to one of the media outlets, New Daily, the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, the overseeing ministry for the industry, opposes introducing remote gambling, on the grounds such services might be accessed by South Korean nationals, and due to concerns of “diplomatic friction” – understood to be a reference to possible objections from other countries whose nationals might be targeted as customers – and the possibility of “excess sales” within the gambling industry.


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