Caesars’ Korean partner can’t find exit; North Korea tells citizens to fink on gamblers


Casino operator Caesars Entertainment’s joint venture partner in South Korea says its experiencing delays in extricating itself from the stalled project.

caesars-lippo-south-koreaIn January 2013, Caesars, Indonesian conglomerate Lippo Group and a mystery third party announced the formation of LOCZ Korea, which promised to build a $2b integrated resort in the Incheon area. South Korea formally approved the project the following year, but to date there’s been zero actual progress in building this resort.

Shortly before last Christmas, Lippo announced there was “no certainty” that the project would go ahead. This March, Lippo said it was looking to sell its stake in the project due to frustrations in convincing its JV partners to make the necessary land deals.

This week, Lippo filed papers saying it had hoped to sell its stake to a new joint venture consisting of Caesars and the mystery third party by November, but the exit negotiations had hit a snag. Lippo said the outcome of its negotiations “is dependent upon a separate set of negotiations between Caesars Korea and [the third party].”

Lippo said it had no idea when these other external discussions might conclude and therefore cautioned that the sale of its share of LOCZ Korea “may or may not materialize.”

The negotiations between Caesars and its secret partner have likely been complicated by Caesars’ nearly two-year struggle to restructure its business following the January 2015 bankruptcy filing of the company’s main unit. In fact, LOCZ Korea has likely been the last thing on Caesars’ mind during this whole tangled process, which likely contributed to Lippo losing faith in the project.

North of the 38th parallel, North Korea has launched a new crackdown on, well, everything. The Hermit Kingdom was never known as a bastion of tolerance, but the government has now ordered citizens to report all instances of “superstition, gambling and prostitution” to their local authorities.

A government missive obtained by NK News lists a spectacularly broad list of things that decent citizens should be reporting, including the sale of everything from drugs to gold to fuel oil, possessing weapons, currency trading, watching “exotic and decadent” videos (aka porn), ‘trickery’ and attempts to “evoke social problems,” another broad category that includes “gang fights.”

A researcher claimed the missive reflected the government’s growing realization that there are holes in its surveillance apparatus that can only be filled via the assistance of average citizens. The researcher also suggested that the upfront reference to drugs, gambling and prostitution suggests these problems are “rife” in North Korean society.

North Korea’s antipathy towards gambling is highly ironic, given that the regime reportedly earns close to a billion dollars in hard currency each year from setting up illegal online gambling operations in other countries.