A provincial government in South Korea says it too wants to attract foreign investors to build a foreign players-only casino resort.
Tuesday’s announcement by North Jeolla province on the country’s southwest coast comes less than two weeks after the central government said it would consider bids for two new foreign-players only casino projects in the country – each with a minimum investment of KRW1 trillion (US$925 million). They would supplement two licences already issued for the Incheon Free Economic Zone near the nation’s capital Seoul, and close to the country’s main air hub, Incheon International Airport.
Lee Hyung-kyu, a senior official at the North Jeolla Provincial Office, on Tuesday told reporters: “We are currently in consultations with two to three U.S. and Chinese investment funds to build an integrated resort.”
The area that is proposed for a casino is called Saemangeum, an area of reclaimed land (pictured) at the mouth of a now-dammed river estuary.
The neighbouring city of Gunsan has an international airport of its own that currently provides direct flights to Jeju, a Korean island popular with Chinese holidaymakers and that also has casinos.
“Company officials from two [potential investors] will visit the site soon to discuss the project in more detail,” added the North Jeolla official, quoted by the country’s Yonhap News Agency.
“After negotiations with private funds, we will draw up a plan for KRW1 trillion in investment and seek government approval within the first half of this year,” the local official added.
The same day as North Jeolla’s announcement, Bloomberry Resorts Corp, a Philippines-listed developer and operator of Solaire Resort and Casino in Manila, announced in a filing it was buying 12.2 hectares (30.1 acres) of land in the Incheon Free Economic Zone for a “leisure and tourism complex”. It didn’t specifically mention gaming, but company management is on public record expressing interest in investing in the country’s casino market.
South Korea currently has 16 casinos for foreigners-only and one for locals, according to the University of Nevada Las Vegas Center for Gaming Research.
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”I thought they were wise to recommend five locations across the kingdom [for casino resorts] rather than one or two locations in Bangkok”
Principal at industry consultancy C3 Gaming Group