Caesars bullish on Korea project

    Caesars Entertainment vice president of Asia Development William Shen said he’s confident that the company’s new joint venture project in South Korea will see strong growth, despite not having access to the local market. Caesars, together with the Lippo Group, earlier this year became the first foreign corporation to win preliminary approval for a $805 million project on Yeongjong island under Seoul’s “pre-approval” process. Shen said existing casinos in the area are already generating gross gambling revenue of more than $800 million and that’s without a true integrated-resort model. The growth is being fuelled by Chinese tourists who made up 36 percent of the total tourist numbers last year. South Korea has plans to attract 10 million Chinese visitors a year by 2020, compared with 4.3 million last year, an increase of 53 percent from 2012, according to data from Korea Tourism Organization. “It’s a very positive growth trajectory,” he said. Shen was speaking after a panel session at G2E Asia focused on the integrated resort model. MGM Resorts international senior vice president global gaming development Edward Bowers had earlier said during the session that he didn’t think an integrated resort model is viable in major Asian markets without the support of locals. “You need the support of the domestic market to create the necessary size and mass. Without locals it’s very difficult,” he said. Shen said he didn’t expect any change of heart from the South Korean government on allowing locals into casinos any time soon.