U.S. regional tribal casino operator Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority, known as Mohegan Sun, and South Korea’s Incheon International Airport Corp (IIAC) on Tuesday announced an agreement to develop a casino resort (pictured in an artist’s impression) near the country’s capital Seoul.
The scheme is described in a press release from Mohegan Sun as the “first private jet terminal in the world connected to [an] integrated casino resort”. The proposed project will be developed in the grounds of Incheon International Airport, one of the largest air transport hubs in Asia, and which caters for more than 45 million passenger trips annually.
The planned casino resort will include a 18,500 square metre (199,132 sq feet) casino with 250 tables and 1,500 slot machines.
The development will be on an 800-acre (324-hectare) plot controlled by the airport corporation. It will also feature a two-tower luxury hotel complex with 1,000 guest rooms, a 20,000-seat sports arena, retail areas and an amusement park.
This is not the first time a ‘fly-in’ integrated gaming resort has been proposed in Asia. U.S.-based casino operator Caesars Entertainment Corp last year told GGRAsia it was looking to build a similar project next to Manila International Airport in the Philippines.
The memorandum of understanding signed between Mohegan Sun – the gaming development arm of the U.S. Mohegan Indian tribe – and IIAC outlines what is described as a framework for a conceptual agreement on the project. The goal is to sign an agreement on a final concept by June 30, and a scope of work proposal by the end of the year.
The project is subject to Mohegan Sun securing a gaming licence from South Korea’s Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, the release stated.
“We look forward to extending the unique Mohegan Sun brand, focused on unparalleled hospitality and guest experience, to [South] Korea and providing a new, global customer base at a one-of-a kind, must-visit destination,” Bobby Soper, president of Mohegan Sun, said in a statement.
This will be Mohegan Sun’s first project outside the United States. The gaming operator owns the Mohegan Sun resort in Uncasville, Connecticut, said to be one of the largest gaming venues in the U.S., with 364,000 sq ft of gaming space.
It also owns and operates Mohegan Sun Pocono in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, and manages Resorts Hotel Casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey. The body is reportedly linking with another tribe on a casino project in Washington state that Mohegan Sun would manage.
But the operator has recently been unsuccessful in its attempts to win casino licences in Massachusetts and New York.
Commenting on the partnership with Mohegan Sun, president and chief executive of IIAC, Park Wan-su, said: “This project is an important step in Incheon airport’s continued efforts to become a global mega-hub airport, delivering passengers the highest quality service.”
Mohegan Sun is to be joined by Miura Holdings Asia – referred to as a multi-purpose investment vehicle focused on gaming, hotel and food and beverage activities in the United States and Asia – as part of the development team, the press release stated.
The Korea Economic Daily, quoting investment banking sources, had last week, in an article originally published in Korean, linked Mohegan Sun with three Asian casino firms regarding a possible gaming resort investment on Yeongjong Island, a special economic zone near to Incheon airport. None is mentioned on Tuesday’s release.
One of the companies was South Korean casino operator Grand Korea Leisure Co Ltd, known as GKL, an affiliate of the Korea Tourism Organization, South Korea’s official tourism agency. Another was Macau junket operator Tak Chun Group.
The third firm mentioned in the Korea Economic Daily report was Australia-listed boutique casino operator Donaco International Ltd. Donaco is not mentioned in Tuesday’s press release. But Miura Holdings’ managing director Ameesh Patel has acted as an adviser to Joey Lim Keong Yew, chief executive of Donaco, according to a June 2014 report by Global Gaming Business Magazine.
Donaco is currently a one-property operator, running the Aristo International casino hotel in Lao Cai, near Vietnam’s northern border with China. The company is acquiring the Star Vegas Resort and Club casino property in Poipet, Cambodia, but the deal has faced delays, according to Donaco.
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”The project [in South Korea] continues apace in terms of detailed design, where we have now reached the 90 percent threshold”
Chief executive of U.S. tribal casino operator Mohegan Gaming and Entertainment