Inside Asian Gaming

INSIDE ASIAN GAMING NOVEMBER 2018 22 COVER STORY controlling guest rooms by staging poker and baccarat tournaments. Promotions are a key to drawing customers to a new property in what’s a new destination for many players, and more are in the cards. In this “acquisition phase,” a knowledgeable source says Landing is offering commissions up to 1.5% and generous perks, “the kind of deal you’d get in Sihanoukville.” FIRST IMPRESSION After the passport check, Shinhwa World casino customers enter a dramatic rotunda with an elegant chandelier and 20 mainly high- limit tables. The main floor stretches to the left with 65 tables and most of the property’s 239 machines, including a 40-seat multi-game stadium. VIP areas extend to the right. In-house VIP club D’Solitaire – Ding Sheng or “great prosperity” in Mandarin – has 37 tables, with another 52 tables in private suites for junkets, the largest room holding 10 tables, high-limit slots and a bar featuring Scotch whiskey. Macau junkets visit on a casual basis. VIP play starts at KRW300,000 (US$263) with a maximum bet of KRW300 million. On the mass side, bets are as low as KRW10,000 for roulette and blackjack, KRW20,000 for baccarat, but KRW200,000 for a “squeeze game” where bettors can handle their cards. Landing says mainland Chinese customers account for about 70% of casino revenue with 15% from Taiwan – “a good surprise,” COO Lee says – and the rest widely shared among Southeast Asia, Japan and Hong Kong. The mass gaming floor has a food court offering Korean, Chinese, Japanese and Western options that resembles the one at Resorts World Sentosa, a reminder that Genting was a Shinhwa World partner until November 2016, just six months before roll out. Many management figures have résumés including Genting or Les Towering ambition W ITH its Genting ties, theme park, suburban setting and low-rise profile, Jeju Shinhwa World evokes Singapore’s Resorts World Sentosa. Jeju Dream Tower aspires to the Marina Bay Sands role, an iconic downtown integrated resort cementing Jeju’s place on the regional gaming map. A tall order for 169 meter twin towers soaring above Jeju’s usual 55 meter limit with views of Mount Halla, the city and the sea. Developed by Lotte Tour – with distant family ties but no business relationship to Korean top-five conglomerate Lotte Group with its own Dream Tower in Seoul – Jeju Dream Tower will be the vacation island’s second US$1 billion-plus IR. Features include Asia’s flagship Grand Hyatt with 1,600 suites, Korea’s largest outdoor pool deck, a 38th-floor observation deck by day, ultra lounge by night and, if the Jeju government approves, a casino with net gaming space of 4,800 square meters (51,648 square feet). “We believe Dream Tower is a game changer,” Lotte Tour COO and Executive Vice President Lawrence Teo says. “The more IRs, the more visitors, the bigger the pie.” Dream Tower is scheduled to open next October, giving relations between China and South Korea 11 months to continue thawing. In a capital-light construction model, Lotte Tour used Chinese developer Greenland to finance one hotel tower then sell rooms to individual Korean investors for leaseback to Lotte Tour with a guaranteed annual return and 24 days’ annual room use. “That’s US$500 million we didn’t have to invest,” Teo, previously a top Melco Entertainment executive in Macau, notes. SHANGHAI STRATEGY Lotte Tour sees competitive advantage in its inbound tourism experience. It’s learning about gaming running LT Casino, the Jeju Island’s Mount Halla is Korea’s tallest peak.