Mohegan Sun leaders have made it just in time to personally file their bid for a casino license in South Korea.
Bobby Soper, chief executive of the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority (MTGA), confirmed to The Day that he personally flew from Connecticut to South Korea on Wednesday, two days before the government’s Friday deadline.
MTGA, also known as Mohegan Sun, signed a prospective deal with the Incheon International Airport Corporation back in April to build and operate a $1.6 billion gateway entertainment city next to the Incheon International Airport, which serves more than 45 million visitors annually.
The $1.6 billion is just a portion of the authority’s $5 billion total investment for the project that is expected to unfold in over 20 years.
Mohegan officials are scheduled to present the project to the South Korean government, Soper said. If it wins a license, the authority could complete the project’s first phase and open in early 2020.
Soper told the news outlet the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism is expected to award up to three licenses next year, including two in the Incheon area. The government started accepting in August requests for proposal for nine sites, including Ung-dong in Jinhae Free Economic Zone of Gyeongsangnam-do, a redevelopment area in Busan North Port, Yeosu Gyeongdo Tourism Complex in Jeollanam and six sites within Incheon.
So far, the ministry already has 34 requests for concept, including those from Las Vegas Sands, Genting Group, Galaxy Entertainment Group, Grand Korea Leisure, Naga Corp., SunCity Group, Imperial Pacific International Holdings, and Global Gaming Asset Management.
Mohegan Sun is teaming up with chemicals maker KCC Corp. for the Incheon project. The South Korean company recently announced that it has acquired a 24.5 percent for $176 million in Mohegan Sun’s local subsidiary, Inspired Integrated Resort Co.
Soper said Mohegan Sun has found a “perfect complement” in KCC Corp. “Not only do they have experience in development and contracts in Korea, but they’re also aligned with our core values of community and relationships, transparency and integrity,” the chief executive told The Day.
But for Moody’s Investors Service, KCC’s venture into the casino industry will only bring heartache to the company. The bond credit rating business said the company’s investment, if it materializes on a debt-funded basis, will only pressure KCC’s financial profile.
“KCC’s investment in the casino business, if it materializes, will be a credit negative, given the casino project’s uncertainty and execution risk,” Moody’s VP and senior analyst Wan Hee Yoo said in a note.
The development, which will sit on a 324-hectare plot of land owned by IIAC, will feature three hotels with a total of 1,350 rooms, a theme park, an entertainment venue, luxury retail space, convention space, and a foreigners-only casino.