Connecticut, USA is home to two of the world’s biggest casinos: Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods. These two casinos featured not only gambling, but also restaurants, shops, concerts, and athletic events. When two of my hometown friends visited me for Chuseok vacation, one of them really wanted to go gambling. Not enjoying gambling, I pushed back on his requests until the last day of their trip, when I realized that it would be very interesting to blog about. Therefore, on October 8, we went to the Seven Luck Casino in Gangnam.
Gambling is (mostly) illegal in South Korea. In fact, if Korean nationals gamble abroad, that is also a crime, although people are rarely punished for doing so. The one exception is Kangwon Land in Gangwon-do, a province to the east of Seoul. The Seven Lucky Casino is only open to non-Koreans; passports are required. I was not able to find information about how this effects dual citizens who claim Korean citizenship.
After checking our bags and presenting our passports, we continued to the second floor. This is the main area for people to gamble. About ⅛ of the slot machines seemed to be out of order. Only half of the tables appeared to be open. My friends, Mr. Z and Mr. C, both used to going to casinos in the United States, were surprised at how popular baccarat is.
I made my way to the restaurant next to the games. Customers order food from computers outside of the restaurant. There was a “coupon” menu and a full menu. The coupon menu offered free food for gamblers every four hours. This consisted of: ramyeon, dumplings, and udon noodles. I could not figure out how to order from the full menu, so I went to order dumplings. The host told me that I would need to gamble for at least 30 minutes to get my food.
In order to gamble, patrons need to create a free membership card. After my friends and I created our cards, we were given vouchers for ₩10,000 (roughly $9.14 USD) for us to use. Not wanting to wait for the table games to open up, we headed straight for the slot machines. We looked for the cheapest possible machines. We found machines that would allow us to only spend ₩50 (roughly 5¢ USD) per spin. That meant that we could use 200 spins. If we were going to last for 30 minutes, we could play 6 turns per minute or 1 turn every 10 seconds.
After 30 minutes of monotonously playing the slots, we returned to the restaurant with our newly minted membership cards. I was able to order a free item, but my friends were denied. The host told them that, in addition to playing for 30 minutes, they needed to wager at least ₩100,000 (roughly $91.40 USD) – a condition that the restaurant did not mention before. It was odd because I did exactly the same thing as they did.
The dumplings were mediocre at best. They were steamed, and came in a bowl that was drowning them in hot water. Whomever prepared them also sprinkled far too many sesame seeds on top. I found myself eating them as fast as possible so I could leave the restaurant. I would have liked to post a picture, but I was told that even in the restaurant it is not allowed.
The Seven Lucky Casino is one of the few places in Korea where people can gamble. Perhaps if there were more competitors, Seven Lucky Casino would need to improve its services. Although my plastic membership card allows me to return to the casino without presenting my passport, I doubt that I will ever use it.