Bloomberry Resorts Corp announced on Tuesday it would buy a casino operator in South Korea and a small island in the country. Currently Bloomberry’s only casino operation is in the Philippines, where the firm is the developer and operator of the US$1.2-billion Solaire Resort and Casino (pictured) in the capital Manila.
Bloomberry said its subsidiary Solaire Korea Co Ltd has signed an agreement to acquire up to 92 percent of Golden and Luxury Co Ltd, which owns and operates T.H.E. Hotel and Vegas Casino on South Korea’s southern holiday destination Jeju Island.
“The agreement is subject to performance of several conditions,” said Bloomberry in a filing to the Philippine Stock Exchange. The firm added it would disclose the details “once appropriate approvals have been obtained”.
Solaire Korea has also signed a deal to buy the 20.96-hectare (51.79-acre) Silmi Island near Incheon in the north of the country, Bloomberry said in a separate filing on Tuesday. Silmi Island is within the Incheon Free Economic Zone near the country’s main international airport, and is adjacent to Muui Island. In January Bloomberry said it was acquiring 12.2 hectares on the latter island.
“Silmi Island is intended to be developed into a leisure and tourism complex with entertainment facilities and mixed use developments,” the firm said. Tuesday’s filing didn’t mention if there would be a casino on the new site.
“We are now slightly shifting our focus to other destinations. Although this will happen in the next few years, it is good business to start prospecting, and [South] Korea is a likely choice because of its positive investment climate,” Bloomberry chairman and chief executive Enrique Razon said in a statement quoted by local media.
The casino operator gave no value for the deals announced on Tuesday. Both transactions are still subject to South Korean government approvals.
South Korea plans to approve two more foreigners-only casino licences this year to boost tourism, with operators expected to invest at least KRW1 trillion (US$886.2 million) each. The government didn’t specify a location for the new licences.
Authorities in South Korea have already approved two casino projects for the Incheon Free Economic Zone. One is a venture between South Korea’s Paradise Co Ltd and Japan’s Sega Sammy Holdings Inc. The other is from Caesars Entertainment Corp and Hong Kong-listed Lippo Ltd for an integrated resort expected to be ready by 2018. Both are also for foreigners players-only casinos.
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.
In Jeju Island, competition is also expected to intensify with the progressive opening of Resorts World Jeju in 2017. Genting Singapore Plc, a subsidiary of Malaysian conglomerate Genting Bhd, broke ground on that scheme last month.
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