The governor of Jeju Island, Won Hee-ryong, is showing resistance to the construction of a casino resort by Ramjung Jeju Development Corp, a joint venture between mainland China real estate developer Landing International Development Ltd and Genting Singapore Plc, a subsidiary of Malaysian conglomerate Genting Bhd.
Mr Won said in a radio interview quoted by Korea Bizwire that the construction application by Ramjung had no mention of a casino. That constitutes sufficient ground for application cancellation, the Korea Bizwire reported.
Construction of the US$2.2 billion casino resort on Jeju is expected to start in the third quarter of 2014, after the partners decided to postpone the ground-breaking ceremony originally scheduled for June 24. The property will be modelled after Resorts World Sentosa in Singapore and will be called Resorts World Jeju.
Media reports say the ground-breaking ceremony was postponed after Mr Won ordered a review of the project for allegedly having exceeded the agreed planning permission.
“Before deciding whether to give permission to the casino application, we need to create a supervisory body for casino operations in the province in consultation with the central government. To do that, it will take at least six months or one year,” Mr Won was quoted as saying during the interview.
The comments by Mr Won, a member of the ruling New Frontier Party, clash with last week’s announcement by the South Korean national government that it planned to reduce regulatory barriers faced by developers of integrated resorts that contain gambling facilities.
“Given international casino operators are flocking to Korea with an aim to open casinos for Korean nationals in the future, we must be vigilant about protecting our citizens from unscrupulous operators,” Mr Won, who was elected in June, said in the interview.
He has for several times showed his concern about the opening of more casinos in Jeju Island.
The province, one of the major touristic destinations in South Korea, has eight casinos in operation. All are only for holders of a foreign passport.
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President and chief operating officer of Macau-based casino operator Sands China