Mohegan Sun-KCC consortium wins S. Korea casino bid

U.S. casino operator Mohegan Sun and KCC Corp have been selected as the winner of an integrated resort project on Yeongjong Island, a transportation hub west of Seoul, according to Yonhap News.

Announced by the Ministry of Tourism in Korea, Mohegan’s bid with KCC envisions a KRW1.5 trillion (US$1.2 billion) facility called “Inspire Integrated Resort”, to open in early 2020. The development will break ground in 2017 and include a casino, luxury hotel, shopping areas, an entertainment arena and convention venues on the island to be completed by 2019.

In an interview with Yonhap, Bobby Soper, the president of the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority said the resort will focus on entertainment.

“We consider ourselves an entertainment-driven company. We’ll be one of the premier entertainment venues in all of Asia,” said Soper.

In relation to the other two casino resorts opening in Korea, Soper said “(Inspire Integrated Resort) is close enough (to the other two resorts), so they have a certain cluster impact.”

“Their programming is focused on convention rooms, and our programming is focused on recreational and retail. Those two different types of programming will complement each other very well.”

The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism also commented on the new development.

“We will closely monitor the project to help support the (Mohegan consortium) in building a world-class integrated resort,” said the Ministry. “It is expected to boost the competitiveness of the South Korean tourism industry with various tourism infrastructure, such as a K-pop arena, a theme park and a convention center.”

The winner should build its resorts within four years after receiving a casino licence, according to Yonhap. With the new development, this will increase the number of casinos in the nation to 20 by 2020.

Union Gaming analysts say the new development will not likely be a risk to Macau’s big operators given the difference in target customers between the two regions. “Importantly for Macau, its mass market GGR is driven primarily by southern China meaning that related persons are unlikely to divert to Korea for gaming. Rather we would expect Incheon IRs to draw from northern Chinese cities (e.g. Beijing, Tianjin) and from Chinese visitors already going to Korea for purposes other than gaming. With this in mind, we do not believe there will be a notable mass market GGR risk for Macau (or Singapore, Philippines, etc.).” says Union Gaming.