201507 - page 11

In Focus
despite recent media warnings about
the dangers of gambling in Korea, that
Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome
(MERS) will be a passing phenomenon
asSARSproved tobe forHongKongand
Macau, and that visitors will be tempted
to gamble more by better properties.
Just last month, in the midst of MERS
gloom, city officials in Incheon, about
40 minutes from the capital Seoul,
announced plans to develop a resort
with China’sMacrolink Group, amining
company diversified into sectors from
real estate towine.
They enter a beehive of gaming
interest and activity. SouthKorea already
has 16 foreigners-only casinos, plus the
remote Kangwon Land casino where Koreans may play that has
greater revenue than all the foreigners-only casinos combined. The
offer of twoadditional licenses reportedly drewnearly threedozen IR
proposals for SouthKorea’sMinistry of Culture, Sports andTourism
to evaluate.Most proposals are for the IncheonFreeEconomicZone
(IFEZ) onYeongjong Island, siteof thenation’s gateway airport, that
has been amagnet for IR interest.
“Incheon is it for Korea,” Solaire Resort Korea Chairman
and CEO David Shim says. Incheon International Airport, which
handled 45 million passengers last year, is building a second
terminal that will make it one of the biggest in the world, and
has 100 million people within two hours’ flying time, including
residents of Shanghai, Beijing, Tokyo and Osaka. Mr Shim
points out that Seoul, Incheon and
surroundings put Korea’s best 20
million consumers within an hour’s
travel time of the zone, plus there are
IFEZ benefits including tax exemptions
and infrastructure support. And it looks
likely there will be critical mass for
Incheon as a gaming destination.
Korea has already licensed two IRs
in the IFEZ. Korean operator Paradise
broke ground in November on its $1.2
billion IRnext to its current casino at the
airport’s Grand Hyatt hotel, a 15-minute
walk or fiveminute shuttle bus ride from
the terminal. The new project includes
Japanese gamingmachinemanufacturer
Sega Sammy and is expected to open
in 2017. Caesars Entertainment, partnered with Indonesia’s Lippo
Group, won approval last year for an IR in a different section of
Yeongjong, expected to be open when South Korea hosts the 2018
Likely bidders for thenew licenses are an eclecticmix.HongKong’s
Chow Tai Fook Enterprises, headed by long-time Macau casino
investor Cheng Yu-tung, has proposed a $1.6 billion IR project
at Incheon. Bloomberry Resorts, developer of Solaire Resort and
Casino in Manila, submitted plans for a $3.4 billion resort ($1.4
billion first phase) onMuui and Silmi islands, part of the IFEZ that
will be connected to Yeongjong via bridge by 2018. Mohegan Tribal
ForChinese, SouthKorea isn’t
just closebutaspirational.
waveofpop culture thathas
developed consumer society.
From cosmetics to cosmetic
surgery tomobile computing
power, SouthKoreabeats
what’savailable inChina.
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