Sands wants to invest 5-12 trillion won in Busan casino

Las Vegas Sands Corp. is willing to invest between 5 to 12 trillion won ($4.5 billion to $10.8 billion) in a casino resort in Busan if “investment conditions are met”, said George Tanasijevich, CEO of Marina Bay Sands in an interview with Korea Economic Daily.

“The best location for Sands Group to invest in is Busan. We are willing to move in as soon as investment conditions are met.” said Tanasijevich.

In an interview with Korea Times earlier this year, the executive said the firm will do “whatever it takes” to convince the Korean government and the people of what its resort can offer.

Tanasijevich said Las Vegas Sands has been eyeing the Asian market for around 8 years, looking for countries with strong MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences, and events) industry growth prospects. He says Busan is particularly interesting as it offers “international airport, hotels, MICE facilities, and department stores across the city”.

“The city has an unlimited growth potential for its location lying between Japan and China, but is now suffering in obscurity due to lack of enough five-star hotels and exhibition and convention venues,” he said.

Tanasijevich hinted his company may invest between 5 trillion won and 12 trillion won in Busan.

“If Busan really aims to become an international tourism city, we can do so by enlisting investors, just like Singapore that raised its profile as a premier tourist destination by increasing foreign tourist numbers.” he said.

He also commented on the opposition of some advocacy groups in the city regarding his casinos’ hopes to allow locals to gamble.

“There were [also] dissenting voices among Singaporeans when the government allowed casino resorts. As a compromise, we came up with a plan to charge 100 Singaporean dollars (US$74) to domestic guests. Currently only 20 percent of Singaporean guests to the resorts play in the casinos,” he explained, adding that a recent survey result showed that 65 percent of respondents answered that they won’t mind allowing Korean nationals to enter casinos as long as regulation is strictly enforced.