US-based casino operator Mohegan Sun takes a step closer toward its goal of marking a gambling footprint on South Korea’s shores after sealing a land deal with Incheon International Airport Corporation (IIAC).
Yonhap News Agency reported that the Mohegan Sun-led Inspire Integrated Resort consortium and IIAC signed a lease agreement that greenlights the use of 2.67 square meters of Yeongjong Island for the construction of the KRW5.6 trillion (US$5 billion) resort and casino in 2020.
The deal comes after the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism (MCST) in February issued a new integrated resort license to the Connecticut tribal casino operator, which partnered with South Korean chemical maker KCC.
“With the agreement, we have acquired the space to build the integrated resort,” Kang Yeon-sop, the chief of Inspire Integrated Resort, said during a signing ceremony. “We aim to build Northeast Asia’s largest integrated resort, which is expected to draw about 10 million tourists annually.”
Inspire Integrated Resort plans to break ground early 2017 and targets to begin operation by 2020. The Phase 1 is estimated at $1.6 billion, with a total of $5 billion over multiple phases. Mohegan Sun will also be joined by Miura Holdings Asia as part of the development team.
The project will feature a three-tower luxury hotel complex with 1,350 five star and six start guest rooms, a Paramount Studios-themed indoor-outdoor amusement park, and a 20,000 square meter casino with 250 gaming tables and 1,500 slot machines.
Bobby Soper, the president of the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority, said the new project will help realize Incheon Airport’s “airport city concept” by drawing tourists from around the world with the world-class resort.
South Korea currently has 17 casinos, but the country’s nationals are only allowed to gamble at one of them – Kangwon Land, located 150 kilometres (93 miles) southeast of Seoul in Kangwon province.
By next year, South Korea’s casino sector will get additional boosts with the opening of Paradise City. Jointly-owned casino operator Paradise Co Ltd and Japanese pachinko operator Sega Sammy Holdings Inc, Paradise City is said to be the first large-scale, foreigner-only gaming resort in the country.
Incheon airport handles more than 45 million visitors annually and is currently building an additional terminal to increase capacity to about 62 million passengers by 2017.