Melco says foreigner-only policy a deterrent in South Korea

Melco Crown Entertainment co-chairman Lawrence Ho said South Korea’s policy of restricting access to locals means the company is not placing a high priority on expansion in the country.
“In our opinion, foreigners-only gaming market is difficult. Korea and its policy of not letting locals in, to us, is difficult,” Ho was cited as telling reporters at the opening of the company’s City of Dreams resort in Manila. “But one day, if the government changes its policy about locals, we would jump in head first.”
South Korea’s casino market has attracted considerable interest from foreign investors, in part because of strong growth in visitor numbers from neighbouring China. The number of Chinese tourists to South Korea grew nearly 41 percent in 2014, according to the Korea Tourism Organisation.
Several foreign-invested projects are already moving ahead in the country, Hong Kong-based Chow Tai Fook Enterprises has expressed an interest in developing a project on Yeongjongdo and signed a letter of intent on Nov. 16 with Incheon City, while a venture between Caesars Entertainment and the Lippo Group plans a more than $2 billion integrated resort on the island. Landing International and Genting are also active, though Las Vegas Sands has expressed similar reservations as Melco about the lack of local access.