China State Construction Engineering Corp (CSCEC) – one of China’s largest construction firms – has been selected as the main builder for the “Dream Tower” project on Jeju Island, in South Korea. The plan for the scheme includes a foreigner-only casino.
The announcement was made on Tuesday by project promoters Lotte Tour Development Co Ltd and Greenland Group, reported local newspaper Korea JoongAng Daily.
Korean firm Lotte Tour is involved in the provision of leisure and travel services. The firm is independent from Lotte Group, one of the country’s largest conglomerates. Greenland Group is a Chinese state-owned developer.
According to Korea JoongAng Daily’s report, the two firms are planning to invest a combined total of KRW700 billion (US$606.6 million) in the project. Construction work is expected to start in May and the project should be completed by March 2019, added the media outlet.
The 38-storey “Dream Tower” reportedly will be Jeju’s tallest building.
The casino will have 200 gaming tables and 400 slot machines, according to the Korea JoongAng Daily. The report added that Lotte Tour would manage the casino.
South Korea has 17 casinos, but only one of them – Kangwon Land on the Korea peninsula – is open to local players. According to numbers compiled by brokerage Union Gaming Securities Asia Ltd and included in an October 2015 note, there are eight operating casinos in Jeju, “all of which are quite small, with an average of just 41 tables and 23 slots at each.”
There is already a second large-scale casino project under construction in Jeju, known as Resorts World Jeju or “Myths and History Park”. The US$1.8-billion scheme is a venture between Genting Singapore Plc and mainland China real estate developer Landing International Development Ltd. The project is due to open progressively from 2017, according to a March filing by Landing International. The entire development is to be completed by 2019.
In its October note, Union Gaming estimated annual casino gross gaming revenue in Jeju could “reach US$2 billion over time, up from approximately US$200 million today”.
Jeju has become a popular holiday destination for mainland Chinese tourists, as they are allowed visa-free entry for up to 30 days if they fly or sail there directly.
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Ambrose So Shu Fai
Vice-chairman and chief executive at Macau casino operator SJM Holdings