US tribal gaming operator Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment remains hopeful it can open its US$1.6 billion Inspire Korea integrated resort by the second quarter of 2023 as it continues efforts to resume construction.
An update on development progress was provided by the company’s International President, Bobby Soper, during an interview for Gaming Laboratories International’s Illuminating Conversations series.
As reported by Inside Asian Gaming earlier this week, Mohegan is currently working towards the final piece of financing needed to complete the project with CEO Ray Pineault telling analysts during an investor call that “meaningful strides” have been made.
Soper, the man tasked with working on that deal, said such financing work was progressing well, adding, “My goal is to close that transaction in the very near future, remobilise, get construction going and opening in 2023.”
With Mohegan having earlier this year been granted a six-month extension to its opening deadline for Inspire Korea from late 2022 to the first half of 2023 due to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, Soper said the opening would take place, “Hopefully in the second quarter of 2023, or third quarter latest 2023.
“It’s been a rollercoaster, we’ve had our ups and downs, and COVID certainly threw a curve ball,” he explained. “But we’re in the ground, we have significant investment in the ground. We need to finalise some of the final financing and I just spent two and half months in Korea pursuing that. I think we are far along.”
Soper also expressed confidence in Inspire Korea’s long-term prospects, noting that it will not only service the regional gamer via its foreigner-only casino but also offer some much-needed live entertainment options for the local Seoul market.
“It’s a tremendous opportunity,” he said. “It is [foreigner-only] gaming but let’s keep in mind greater Seoul is 28 million people. This is really the first truly integrated resort in the area. Paradise [City] opened in Incheon too with a MICE, hotel focus, but we’re entertainment focused – that’s our brand.
“And you have 28 million people in the pop culture hub of Asia where there really is not an indoor arena in Greater Seoul. There are some stadiums but they are all suboptimal for live entertainment, and that’s the type of opportunity we’re looking at here.
“A good part of our traffic will be driven locally through the Greater Seoul area but there is still great opportunity for the international gamer. Remember our tax rate is less than half of what it is in Macau, so when you bring all these amenities and you look at the potential from China and Japan, we feel really good about the opportunity on the non-gaming side and even on the gaming side.”