Curious case of the Winter Olympics casino resort where Koreans are not allowed

  • Winter Olympics 2018 ‘nerve centre’ is a casino resort
  • All welcome to play at the tables – except South Koreans

World media is raising an eyebrow at the curious case of the Alpensia casino resort in South Korea, which has been described as the nerve centre of the PyeongChang Olympic Winter Games.

It seems an incongruous mix – the Olympics and casino entertainment are not natural bedfellows in the same way as official sponsors McDonalds, Samsung and Ali Baba, and others, sit with the brand.

The quirky setting for the unofficial Olympics HQ interested Dan Wolken of US Today Sports , who decided to set foot in the casino to see exactly who is playing there.

And one thing that was immediately obvious was, it wasn’t Koreans.

Inside the casino

The casino itself was reportedly not exactly heaving with people. The first language was English, perhaps not surprisingly, but the dealer experience itself seemed to be somewhat lacking for the reporter – pointing out that they manually shuffled a six deck shoe in a painstaking process.

Casinos in South Korea

South Korea is very much open for business when it comes to outside investment in casinos.

In September last year Casinopedia reported on major casino developer Genting and its $1.8 billion plans for a South Korea casino on the holiday island of Jeju, but again, this was for tourists, and not locals, with the government resolutely not lifting its ban on the activity for citizens.

The attitude to casinos in the country appears to be a welcoming hand to investment, but still the domestic politicial situation demands more caution. A liberalization of gambling law doesn’t appear to be happening any time soon.

The Winter Games has put a huge amount of international focus on the nation, and the authorities certainly won’t want too much attention placed on the fact that the huge ski resort Alpensia has a working casino.

Because unfortunately the gambling addiction rate in South Korea is 5.1% according to the National Gambling Control Commission.

Compare that to the UK, where gambling addiction, in a country that has legalized and regulated almost all forms of gambling, sits at 0.8%.

It always is a tricky area precisely defining problem gambling, the but statistics do indicate that South Korea has a problem that isn’t being adequately addressed.

Casinos are big business in South East Asia however, and a simple look south west across the East China Sea and the gambling haven of Macau emerges.

Billions are being made yearly in the Chinese enclave, and many nations within easy reach of China are looking to cash in as well – most notably Japan – which legalized casinos last year and is thrashing out exactly the regulations upon which they will operate.

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