CASINO

Paradise SegaSammy acquires South Korean casino; Ho’s Russian casino deal

TAGs: Lawrence Ho, paradise co ltd, Paradise Group, paradise segasammy, primorsky territory, primorye, Russia, sega sammy holdings, South Korea, vladivostok

russia-south-korea-segasammy-summit-ascentParadise SegaSammy, the joint venture of Japanese pachinko and video game outfit Sega Sammy Holdings and South Korean gaming operator Paradise Co., has acquired the operations of Paradise Casino Incheon. The casino, located near the Incheon International Airport 50km west of Seoul, was acquired from Paradise Co’s parent company Paradise Group on July 1.

Last year, Paradise SegaSammy announced its intention to construct South Korea’s first large-scale integrated resort casino adjacent to the airport. The joint venture now says it will expand Paradise Casino Incheon’s current operations and has advanced the opening date from 2018 to 2016. The project will utilize Paradise Casino Incheon’s existing casino license. South Korea recently rejected casino license applications from both Caesars Entertainment and Universal Entertainment, which had also eyed the Incheon area as fertile casino ground.

Further north, Russia’s bid to get in on the Asian casino action has finally attracted a notable name. The Wall Street Journal reported that Lawrence Ho, chairman of Melco International Development Ltd., has inked a deal to build a resort-casino just outside Vladivostok in the Primorye region north of Korea. Ho’s project – the scale of which is still being discussed – will operate under the control of Hong Kong-listed Summit Ascent Holdings Ltd., in which Ho holds a 37% stake. Ho’s joint venture with Crown Ltd.’s James Packer, Melco Crown Entertainment, currently operates casinos in Macau and is constructing the Belle Grande facility in Manila’s Entertainment City development, which is set to open mid-2014.

Russia had previously stated it hoped to welcome as many as 17 casino operators to the Primorye site, but response to date has been tepid. In March, Russian authorities announced that they’d narrowed their scope down to five proposals from operators from the US, Malaysia, Russia, Macau and Hong Kong, all of whom had been invited to present designs. The Primorye region is much more accessible than Macau for northern Chinese residents, and Gaming Market Advisors published a report last year estimating Russia’s casino tax rate would fall between 3% and 7%, a far better deal than operators will find in other regional gaming hubs. But concerns over Russia’s endemic corruption and the government’s traditional antipathy towards gambling have given foreign investors plenty of reason to be wary.

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