Grand Korea Leisure Ltd Reports $20M 3Q20 Loss

We’re back with more financial concerns for a big Asian sportsbook operator, as one of South Korea’s biggest has announced $20M 3Q20 losses. This is quite a staggering figure following profits of over $22M in the same financial period the previous year. The casino accounts for a major loss in sales due to the COVID-19 restrictions as the root cause.

Night-time panorama Seoul.

Seoul is home to two of Grand Korea Leisure’s state-owned casinos. Both of them have been desperately struggling to recover following the pandemic. Attracting overseas customers is key to their survival. ©USAGI_POST/Pixabay

Sales, or revenue, generated from the land-based casino business is a major income source for the company, The majority of profits attributed to the company’s financial statements in previous years are directly linked to fluctuations in the top line. Following the COVID-19 related quarantine measures implemented across Asia this year, customers attending the casino has been sporadic.

As a result, the 3Q20 sales figure is nearly 75% lower than it was in the same period the previous year. Despite this seemingly dismal revenue generation performance, compared with the 2Q20 results, there have been some signs of a recovery. Sales were up nearly 50% compared to the previous financial quarter. The firm made the release of its unaudited financial statements to the Korean stock exchange in a filing this week.

Following these results, accountants will be analyzing the inefficiencies still obstructing the casino from improving its revenue performance. The company will need to figure out ways to pivot and utilize the value of its assets for this purpose. Failure to achieve this will leave them firm facing serious liquidity issues going forward in the next month’s recovery.

South Korea’s Foreigner-Only Casinos

The structure of the casino industry in South Korea is unique compared to the neighboring markets in Japan and China. The Grand Korea Leisure casinos operate as a subsidiary of the Korea Tourism Organization, which is in itself affiliated to the South Korean Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Sport. This unfamiliar corporate structure operates as a business enterprise but is very much controlled by the civil service division of the Korean economy.

The casino operating group Grand Korea Leisure manages three separate locations in Korea, two in the country’s capital city Seoul, and one more in the southern port city of Busan. These venues are only open to foreign customers, as casino gambling for citizens of Korea is not fully legal at these locations. In essence, they are leisure venues designed to drive interest from overseas and provoke a higher turnout of business tourists in Korea.

There are numerous mechanisms for South Koreans looking to make bets in their country, and despite lacking a progressive land-based casino industry the country offers plenty of online solutions. Offshore operators hosting platforms in other regulated zones are widely available throughout Korea, and they remain the main alternative for Koreans looking to place sports bets online.

Grand Korea Leisure Still Suffering from COVID-19 Lockdown

As with the majority of gambling conglomerates working to survive during the catastrophe of COVID-19, they are vulnerable to quarantine measures. Footfall and the free movement of people are essential pre-requisites to the business model. Following a 43 days lockdown from late March to early May, the Grand Korea Leisure casinos have not really recovered the losses incurred.

These measures whilst officially lifted have not changed the general moods or willingness of individuals to make the trips abroad to visit these casinos. Whilst the casinos were able to open their doors this summer, the enforcement of social-distancing measures within the venues has certainly played a role in reducing the number of people allowed into the building.

Other factors contributing to the relatively slow recovery of Grand Korea Leisure include the general wariness and fear that customers have when visiting these types of venues nowadays. Even though foreign-business travelers are being encouraged to visit public leisure venues again, many are choosing to stay away. There is also the fact that many people working in white-collar jobs have experienced financial losses during this crisis, and subsequently have less spare cash available to gamble with.

At the border of South Korea is also another obstacle that potential foreign-customers of Grand Korea Leisure have to overcome. The current laws mean all new arrivals in South Korea must self-isolate for at least 14 days. This is an unattainable time period for many persons and presents a period that is far too long to be deemed worth visiting the country. Interestingly, the current demographic of players at these casinos are Korean nationals that are fortunate enough to hold a foreign passport as well.

Turning around these financial performance figures will be a priority over the next months. With top-line revenue down 54.5% and other performance forecast metrics painting an unfavorable set of conditions, it would appear that diversification and a shift towards online products will be key to surviving the impact of COVID-19 on Asia’s casinos.

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