The foreigner-only casino at Jeju Shinhwa World, a resort on South Korea’s Jeju Island, is likely to open to the public in late February, Chris Block (pictured), executive vice president, casino, at Landing Entertainment Korea Co Ltd, has told GGRAsia. Landing Entertainment is a local unit of the scheme’s developer, Hong Kong-listed Landing International Development Ltd.
In an exclusive interview with GGRAsia, Mr Block said the company expects to have all the necessary approvals to relocate its existing casino in Hyatt Regency Jeju to Jeju Shinhwa World in early February. The projected opening is still a “working date”, he added.
“We want … a bit of wiggle room and set an opening date to the public for February 28, and then a gala grand opening about March 2,” said the executive. “This is tentative and it is anticipating the process goes [forward] as it should.”
The opening of the casino had been scheduled for January 18 this year but was postponed because the company indicated it was still awaiting local government permission to “relocate” its existing casino in Jeju.
“The casino [at Jeju Shinhwa World] has been totally finished since December,” Mr Block told us. The process to transfer the casino licence however is taking a bit longer than expected because of the local legislature’s agenda, he added.
“The licence transfer … has to go through the local legislature … It didn’t go past being tabled, not because there is a problem… they just said: ‘we are moving it to the next session’,” Mr Block explained. The next session of the local legislature is expected to begin in early February, he added.
Currently, Landing International is operating a casino with 28 gaming tables and 16 slots and electronic table games at the Hyatt Regency Jeju Hotel. The firm intends to have 160 gaming tables and 240 slots and electronic table games at a foreigner-only casino planned for Jeju Shinhwa World. It is to be located at Jeju Shinhwa World Marriott Resort, one of the hotels at the new complex.
Mr Block said the casino at the new property was built to cater to a wide range of patrons. “We don’t have a single target [customer base]. We have a junket area, we have in-house VIP area, premium mass and mass [area],” Mr Block told GGRAsia.
The executive however said the firm expects the VIP and junket segment to account for approximately “60 percent” of the casino business. He said the casino would have “three of the top five junkets from Macau”, although he did not disclose their names. “We also have rooms that will be dedicated to casual junkets,” he added.
“We had a lot of experience in the super high-end casino [Les Ambassadeurs Club and Casino] in London. And 80 percent of our business [there] was from mainland Chinese. We also have experience in this market, and we’ve been running the [casino] at Hyatt [Jeju] for the past two years plus,” added Mr Block.
Mr Block was involved in the management of the Les Ambassadeurs Club and Casino, an upmarket gaming venue in London in the United Kingdom, until October last year, when Landing International sold the venue for HKD2.5 billion (US$319.8 million).
The executive additionally said the firm does not expect its gaming business in Jeju to face any cannibalisation from smaller gaming venues on the island, as its casino is located within a resort with a comprehensive non-gaming offering.
Currently-operating facilities at Jeju Shinhwa World include: the luxury hotels Jeju Shinhwa World Landing Resort, Jeju Shinhwa World Marriott Resort and Somerset Jeju Shinhwa World; Landing Convention Centre; a K-pop themed zone called “YG Republique”; Shinhwa Theme Park, which opened at the end of September; and a shopping area branded as “Shinhwa Shoppes”.
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