Newest Jeju Casino Towers Over Competition Despite Dispute With China

Posted on: August 19, 2018, 12:00h. 

Last updated on: August 18, 2018, 10:34h.

The Jeju Shinhwa World casino and resort may be the new kid on the block, but it’s already established itself as the big bully to be reckoned with.

Jeju casino
Jeju Shinhwa World is dominating the casino market on the small, South Korean Island.

The latest figures show that the newest casino on South Korea’s Jeju Island, located about 45 miles south of the mainland, is not only off to a healthy start, it’s crushing the competition.

The casino opened its doors in February after months of delays, and it quickly established itself as the biggest player in the entire country, not just the small island. Since opening, Jeju Shinhwa World has raked in USD $330 million in profits.

Over that same time period, the combined revenues for all of the other eight casinos on the island paled in comparison at just $120 million. Shinhwa World generated five times the revenue of Incheon’s Paradise City, the biggest casino in South Korea. They’ve welcomed some 350,000 foreigners at the resort since their February opening.

Why is the casino thriving while its competition struggles? The secret appears to its willingness to go against the grain and mostly eschew the one market every other casino in the country covets – the Chinese tourist.

Beating the Boycott

With its moderate climate and a multitude of casinos, Jeju Island has long been a favorite for Chinese travelers. However, the region has been hammered by an unofficial Chinese boycott, which includes a ban of group tours to South Korea.

Casino revenues across Jeju have plummeted as a result, but Jeju Shinhwa World has implemented measures to mitigate those losses. Given that the VIP market generates a large amount of revenue from a small number of players, that’s where the focus has been, according to head of casino operations, Song Woo-seok.

“In other casinos, only 15 percent of the tables are for VIPs, but at Shinhwa it’s half,” Woo-seok told Chosun Media.

They’ve also made a point of aggressively marketing to other Asian countries in the region, reducing their reliance in Chinese visitors.

Unlike some of their competitors, Jeju Shinhwa is also able to derive plenty of revenue from non-gaming sources, thanks to a convention center, large retail space, theme parks, and a concert hall.

Playing Catch Up

The competition has some work to do to cut into Jeju Shinhwa’s market dominance.

The Jeju Lotte Casino is hopeful that a potential move to a new facility may help to close the considerable gap. The facility was recently acquired by the Lotte Tour Development Company, and executives there say they’re considering transferring the gaming license to a new, foreigner-only casino currently under construction.

The Jeju Dream Tower is slated to open in the fall of next year and will become the tallest building on the island at 38 stories. Backed by a Grand Hyatt hotel with 1,600 rooms, the facility would join Jeju Shinhwa as the only other integrated resort on the island.