The first Global Busan Tourism Forum was held in Busan in late June 2016, and one of the topics discussed was the possibility of developing a huge casino resort in Busan that would boost tourism and promote the city’s economic development. A Macau scholar said that the port city of Busan can turn into a great tourist destination, especially if the city decides to cooperate with international and experienced casino operators.
However, Glenn McCartney, an assistant professor of hospitality games at the University of Macau, told the forum that it would be a mistake for city officials to see the number of visitors to the public market visiting the city and conclude that the casino resort will succeed in Busan.
McCartney said the success of the casino resort in Busan should be determined by the consumption power of these tourists across quality tourism and the provision of games and non-games. Busan Metropolitan Data revealed that the city received 3.02 million visitors. Macau, on the other hand, received a total of 31.53 million visitors during the same year.
Korea currently has a total of 17 casinos, but only casinos located in Gangwon Land in Gangwon Province allow local residents to gamble. Las Vegas Sands Corporation, led by billionaire Sheldon Adelson, has already expressed an interest in investing $10 billion to develop an ultra-large casino resort in Busan. However, Adelson wanted the Korean government to lift the ban on local residents and allow them to play in the proposed Busan casino. Las Vegas Sands Corporation wanted the government to introduce new legislation similar to Singapore’s Game Act, which would allow locals to gamble based on certain restrictions.
Singapore allows foreigners to enter casinos for free, but requires citizens to pay S$100 for 24-hour access to casinos or S$2,000 for full-year access. Korea should drastically revise the existing gambling laws, thereby depriving Kangwon Land Casino of its exclusive right to host locals.
Korea’s casino industry in Jeju Island has been doing quite well since the government decided to waive visa requirements for visitors from mainland China. Chinese people are flocking to Jeju Island to enjoy free entry by plane, ferry, or cruise ship, play casinos and enjoy a comfortable vacation. McCartney said if the government decides to develop the casino industry in Busan, the community needs to make sure it is okay to attract casinos and also to ensure that the casino industry is properly integrated with the city’s tourism master plan.