Foreigner-Only Casinos Raided

Prosecutors Tuesday raided foreigner-only casinos run by the nation’s tourism authority for breach of trust or embezzlement in the gambling venue selection process.

Prosecutors seized financial documents and computer files from the two Seven Luck casinos at Oakwood Premier in COEX in southern Seoul and at Millennium Seoul Hilton Hotel. They also raided the office of the casino operator Grand Korea Leisure (GKL), and GKL Chairman Park Jung-sam’s home. GKL is a Korea Tourism Organization (KTO) subsidiary.

A prosecutor said they conducted the raids after the Board of Audit and Inspection (BAI) requested an investigation into the casino operator’s alleged illegality in allowing unqualified contract firms to open casinos.

According to the BAI, KTO selected Hanmoo Convention Corp. which proposed Oakwood as the casino venue in November 2004, although Hanmoo was unqualified to set up gambling facilities at all of its planned sites according to the Construction Law.

Prosecutors will soon question related figures over whether the casino venues were selected under a fair and legal procedure, whether illegal lobbying was involved in the procedure, and whether KTO or GKL officials embezzled funds for the casino. There have been rumors that Hanmoo won the business even though it received lower marks than other bidders.

The three Seven Luck casinos – two opened in Seoul in January and May 2006 and one in Busan in June – recorded 325 billion won in takings last year, up from 129 billion won the previous year.