Seven Luck enjoys boom with foreign gamblers
By Lee Hyo-sik
The state-run Grand Korea Leisure (GKL), the operator of Seven Luck Casino, is enjoying brisk business this year, with record numbers of Japanese, Chinese and other tourists visiting its three outlets.
GKL, 51 percent of which is owned by the Korea Tourism Organization (KTO), attracted a total of 697,381 visitors in the first six months of 2011, up from 653,010 during the same period last year. It expects to draw nearly 1.5 million non-Korean gamblers for the whole year if the current trend continues, and post record-high revenues of 500 billion won.
The company had 1.3 million customers in 2010, earning revenues of 473.4 billion won.
Korea’s largest casino-chain operates a casino at the Millennium Seoul Hilton at the foot of Mt. Nam in central Seoul, another in southern Seoul and a third in Busan.
``We do not expect the number of foreign tourists this year to increase at last year’s pace. But still, we will manage to attract more visitors than in 2010. It means that more foreigners, particularly Chinese tourists who are famous for their love of gambling, will visit our casinos,’’ a GKL spokesman said.
He said a combined 5,825 customers visited GKL’s three casinos on July 16, the highest daily tally. It took less than a month for the company to break its previous record of 5,799 set on June 18.
``Among the visitors, more Japanese than expected came to our casinos last Saturday on a three-day vacation from July 16 to 18. We are encouraged by the growing number of Japanese customers. We are hoping to see the trend continue for the remainder of the year,’’ the spokesman said. July 18 was Japan’s national holiday, dubbed ``Marine Day.’’
GKL has also been establishing stronger business ties with plastic surgery clinics and other private medical service providers frequently visited by Chinese and other Asian tourists. It has expanded its customer base with those who come to Korea for cosmetic surgery and other beauty-related operations.
CEO Kwon Oh-nam has been meeting with a number of cosmetic surgeons and dermatologists operating in the Gangnam district in southern Seoul in a bid to attract more foreign patients.
``We have been discussing a joint business model with private clinics that attract many foreign patients. We think it is a win-win strategy for both parties if tourists receive beauty-related medical care during the day and have fun in our casinos at night,” Kwon said.
GKL has been promoting a ``Biz & Casino, Medicare’’ campaign to encourage foreigners to tour in the daytime, go to the casino at night as well as find time to receive medical services.