Jeju Island: A Hidden Gem for Gaming

Jeju Island A Hidden Gem for Gaming
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When it comes to gaming, most people think of flashy casinos. While many will think of locations like Las Vegas or even Monaco’s Casino de Monte Carlo, the largest gaming markets aren’t located in North America or Europe—and they aren’t hosted at in-person locations anymore. 

In the last two years, market experts focused on gaming have questioned the viability of brick-and-mortar casinos. Statistics from groups like Statista hint that there are around one billion active gamers online, who prefer a live casino online experience over traveling to their nearest in-person location. 

This is particularly relevant in areas like China, South Korea, and Japan, which have the largest gaming reach of any global market. Still, despite these figures, South Korea’s Jeju Island is one of the premier destinations for in-person gaming—and it’s becoming more and more popular. 

And while China’s Macau is also one of the world’s premiere gaming destinations, it replicates the familiar casino-resort settings mentioned above in locations like Las Vegas. Jeju Island, on the other hand, is a totally unique destination that serves one of the world’s most popular and ever-evolving markets. 

Gaming Grows Up: Contemporary Art & Culture

Typically, popular gaming destinations come with a slew of high fashion shopping destinations and the world’s most unique and popular art. Vegas’ Bellagio is home to Picasso and Warhol projects, while Macau’s City of Dreams Hotel is home to works from modern talents KAWS and Shinji Ohmaki. 

However, Jeju delivers on a more unique and innovative angle. Given that the area’s art galleries aren’t stuck inside casino-resorts, there are plenty of day trips that highlight local culture and art, from the Ossulloc Tea Museum to the experimental Arte Museum to the kitschy pop culture mash-up that is Sumokwon Theme Park. 

For casino fans who are sick of the same revolving wheel of gaming and expensive, over-hyped art, Jeju offers something far more authentic and interesting. 

The Missing Piece: A Touch of Natural Splendor

But an elevated list of contemporary art galleries and cultural sites isn’t the only unique angle to Jeju. By far, the island’s biggest pull (for gamers and regular travelers alike) is its natural wonders. The island itself is a UNESCO-recognized site, which means there’s no shortage of interesting day trips for those who enjoy spending time in nature. 

Jeju is home to world-class botanical gardens like those at Yeomiji Park, stunning waterfalls like Cheonjiyeon, and calming forests like the Jelomul Natural Recreation Forest. Most also include folk art, such as Jeju Stone Park, which features stone carvings. 

Two of the most unique and unforgettable opportunities include a hedge maze, fit for people of all ages, and a submarine tour. The submarine tour allows travelers to take a dive with the island’s colorful coral and striking fish populations.  

Jeju Island

A Gamer’s Paradise

Clearly, gamers who head to Jeju will have a series of other activities to keep themselves occupied with. However, the primary focus for any blackjack or mahjong player will be spending time at the tables. 

The island is home to ten casinos, as well as a horseracing track. Some of the most popular locations include the Hyatt Regency, Jeju KAL Hotel Casino, and the Paradise Casino, Jeju Grand Hotel. Unlike Vegas and Macau, these aren’t modeled after the Venetian or similar projects.

In fact, the island isn’t even home to a Michelin-starred restaurant. The emphasis in Jeju isn’t on a no-holds-barred gaming experience with the best in dining, lodging, and other extravagant experiences. While these exist and are a fundamental aspect of Jeju’s gaming market, there’s a bigger emphasis on gaming itself and other hospitality experiences.

In other words, gaming is only one of the primary reasons that a traveler would head to the island. Just like Las Vegas has transitioned to an entertainment capital in order to fill rooms with travelers uninterested in gaming, Jeju is leaning on its other offerings—and it’s paying off. From 2019 to 2022, Jeju Weekly noticed a 6.6% year-over-year increase in tourists, which is expected to continue growing in the coming decade.