South Korea has had a reputation for hosting foreigners who wish to gamble. To this end, Jeju, a popular casino destination within the country, is now trying to figure out if in light of a global pandemic, enabling online gambling would make any sense. COVID-19 has impinged on results, and while Macau is now going to likely suffer the impact of another breakout, Jeju wants to make sure that it can avoid the same fate.
Going Online an Option for Jeju Land-Based Casinos
One way to mitigate potential risks is to make Jeju’s land-based casinos available to operate overseas through interactive gambling. This could secure new funds for the casinos and help mitigate any potential adverse effects the lack of tourists could have on Jeju. Of course, pressing on with such an ambitious plan would require careful consideration of the pros and cons.
The good news is that the pitch is not without a precedent. PAGCOR, the Philippines’ gaming regulator authorized online gambling during the pandemic and has been fairly happy with the results. Meanwhile, South Korea has been wrestling with the issue since it was first brought up at the National Assembly’s Culture, Sports and Tourism Committee in October.
Whether this happens will depend on Jeju’s Casino Policy Division which should create a regulatory framework to enable this type of gambling, and who would be targeted by it, as well as who may participate.
However, there are natural concerns to address. Jeju was not always on the straight and narrow and the casinos were notorious. This is what any regulator and lawmaker in the country want to avoid today as well. It’s not too far-fetched to see how Jeju could backslide to earlier days of operations.
Gibraltar, Malta, and even Australia are now threatened to be placed on FATF’s grey list for money-laundering failures. The Jeju’s Casino Policy Division would need to think about any potential implications enabling online gambling would have on the country and the island’s ability to cope with such concerns as well. Then, there is the other regulator, South Korea’s National Gambling Control Commission which is tasked with clamping down on illegal casinos in Jeju.
Making Sure Jeju Casinos’ Reputation Remains Intact
South Korea also needs to revisit the way it regulates casinos. For example, once a casino obtains a license, it may never have to worry about defending this license ever again as the license is obtained indefinitely.
Macau, for example, recently changed the rules of its gambling licenses, reducing their overall availability. Concessionaires have been on their toes to make sure that they would qualify for a license extension.
Jeju is not completely ruling out the prospect of online gaming, though, unlike Macau. Executing it right would require great care and a deeper understanding of the region’s issues with match-fixing and unregulated gambling. Having a regional champion of online casinos could help tackle the illegitimate businesses that plague Asia.