Seoul Casino

Last updated: April 29, 2012

If you’ve got a gambling spirit, the are more than a dozen casinos in South Korea to choose from. Most of these are located outside the capital, but there are three main casinos in Seoul.

Ironically, gambling is illegal for native Koreans. This means native Koreans can’t enter any of the casinos, with the exception of a casino called “Gangwan-land”. It’s located in the remote countryside in an abandoned mining district in Gangwon province. I’ve personally never been there, and don’t know any foreigners who have either, so I’m not sure that it’s much of an attraction — just worth mentioning. In my experience, Koreans who want to gamble typically head to Macau.

The Seoul casinos operate under the Tourism Promotion Act, which allows hotels to run casinos which only permit entry to foreign nationals. Because of this, make sure you bring your passport, or you will not be permitted entry. Anyone with a foreign passport, and only Koreans with either foreign citizenship or foreign residency are allowed to enter. That said, I’ve played with plenty of Koreans who didn’t seem to be able to speak English or any other language. I’m not sure if there are ways for wealthy or prominent Koreans to get around the law, or if these people actually had legal residency in a foreign country. But either way, it populates the tables and keeps the casino more interesting, so I didn’t really care.

Despite operating exclusively for foreign tourists, casinos in Seoul are surprisingly busy. There are a lot of Japanese and Chinese businessmen and Korean Americans in addition to Westerners. Inside you’ll find standard casino fare such as baccarat, blackjack, roulette, caribbean poker, and slots. At the moment, only one of the casinos has a poker room (Walker Hill), where they play Texas Hold’em. Seven Luck in Coex used to have a poker room as well, but it closed down a year or two ago and has not re-opened. I hear the owner has now opened a poker room in Daegu (outside of Seoul) instead, perhaps due to contractual issues with Seven Luck.

The dress code in most of the casinos is casual — I’ve never seen someone get denied entry based on their attire. That said, I don’t think I’ve ever seen shorts or flip-flops either, so call ahead to make sure. The food at the casinos is typically delicious and free (unless it’s changed since I’ve been there). However, you do have to order from the gambling tables, so you can’t just strut in, head to the dining hall, eat a free meal and leave without gambling. Drinks are free as well, but typically less drinking goes on than in a casino in Vegas, for example. Feel free to get wasted, but be warned you’ll stand out a lot if you start to get rowdy.

Again, you need to show your passport to gain entry, even if you’re obviously not Korean. However, if you live in Seoul or plan on visiting more than once, most casinos offer membership cards so you don’t have to bring your passport every time. At some casinos, membership cards may have other benefits as well–ask at the front desk for details.

Anyway, here are the details on the specific casinos:

Walker Hill Casino

Walker Hill is located north of the Han near Gangbyeon Station (강변역) on line 2 or Gwangnaru Station on line 5, but you won’t be able to walk from the subway station. The easiest way to get here is by taxi. Ask the driver for “Sheraton Walker Hill Hotel” (“쉐라톤그랜드 워커힐 호텔”). This is the only Seoul casino with a poker room. They have regular tournaments, usually every weekend.

The casino is located right by two hotels, the W and the Sheraton, so if you plan on doing a lot of gambling you may want to stay in one of these locations to save you the effort of the difficult commute.

They’re recently recruited Robert Deniro, star of the film “Casino”, as the spokesperson for their commercials. If you saw him in an advertisement on your flight over, this was the casino he was talking about.

Homepage: http://www.paradisecasino.co.kr/Eng/

Phone Number: 02-456-2121

Seven Luck Casino

Seven Luck has two branches: one south of the Han in Gangnam, and one north of the Han at the Hilton Hotel. The Gangnam branch is located in COEX, near Samsung Station (삼성역) on line 2; you can walk from the subway station (about 5 minutes). The Hilton branch is closest to Seoul Station (서울역) on line 4 / line 1.

Homepage: http://www.7luck.com/

Phone Number: 02-3466-6100

New Casinos in Seoul and Incheon?

There are recent rumors that Las Vegas Sands, the world’s largest casino operator, is discussing opening a line of casinos in Korea. According to the Korea Herald,

Korea has the need to increase tourism, it has need to create a convention-based MICE business model that is our specialty,” Las Vegas Sands chairman and CEO Sheldon Adelson said in an interview with Korean reporters in Macau.

“We want very much to invest multi-billion dollars into integrated resorts in two locations. One in Seoul or perhaps Incheon … the second one is Busan, where we met with a mayor few weeks ago.”

It will be something interesting to look out for in the future, but in the meantime, we’ll have to stick to the three casinos listed above.