The South Korean government’s master plan for new international-standard casino resorts is likely to include up to three more licences for Yeongjong Island near Incheon International Airport, 50 kilometres (31 miles) southwest of the capital Seoul.
That is according to a report from Standard Chartered Equity Research. The casino industry has anticipated the master plan will be published by the end of this year.
“Our checks with officials and industry participants suggest that Yeongjong Island will be the centre stage for IR [integrated resort] project development. We expect an additional two to three casino IRs to form a cluster with the two current projects,” states a report from Standard Chartered analysts Tyler Ahn in Seoul and Philip Tulk based in Hong Kong.
In July, Paradise Co Ltd – currently South Korea’s biggest casino operator – said it was linking with Japan’s Sega Sammy Holdings Inc for a US$1.7-billion scheme at Yeongjong called Paradise City (pictured in an artist’s rendering). The development is projected to open in 2017.
The project includes hotels and restaurants, and – as local law currently stands – a foreigners-only casino. According to statements by Paradise, the resort will be a 15-minute walk from the airport.
Currently only Kangwon Land – a difficult-to-access casino resort 150 kilometres (93 miles) southeast of Seoul in Kangwon province – is open to locals.
In July, GGRAsia reported that another Yeongjong Island project involving U.S.-based Caesars Entertainment Corp was expected to break ground next year, with phase one likely to open in 2018.
The consortium – known as LOCZ Korea Corp and also featuring Indonesia’s Lippo Group and Singapore-based real estate developer OUE Ltd – recently completed a US$10 million down payment on the land for the scheme.
Steven Tight, president international development for Caesars Entertainment, on Wednesday told GGRAsia: “We have moved from concept stage into schematic, with a target to start construction probably in July.”
Mr Tight had earlier told us that the LOCZ Korea scheme was not dependent on locals being allowed to play.
The South Korea government has said that by 2017 it wants nearly to double the number of foreign tourists it received in 2013 – with high-spending Chinese visitors a particular target.
Standard Chartered said in its report: “According to the government’s target, visitors from China should account for half of the 20 million total inbound tourists expected in 2017, versus 4 million out of 12 million total tourists in 2013. This would translate into a 23 percent CAGR [compound annual growth rate] for China tourists and a 13 percent CAGR for total inbound tourists in the next four years.”
The paper added: “FECs [foreigner exclusive casinos] should benefit from China tourist growth…China visitors have the highest gaming profile (32 percent higher per-visit [casino] drop than average) and represent the largest customer group.”
In August, South Korea’s Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism said it planned to reduce regulatory barriers faced by developers of integrated resorts that contain gambling facilities.
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