A countdown that could lead to Caesars Entertainment seeing its casino license in South Korea revoked has begun. The company has been trying to put together a foreigner-only casino in Midan City, but has run into problems because of COVID-19. Construction on the property came to an abrupt halt last February and attempts to find new backers to get things going again have failed. Now, South Korea is threatening to cancel Caesars’ permission to complete the project if it doesn’t come up with a solid plan of attack. It has just two months to figure everything out.
The Midan City project was meant to be a joint venture between Caesars and a real estate development company out of China. $150 million had already been poured into the construction of the property before coronavirus launched its massive global assault and upended the global gaming space. When the impact the pandemic was to have on the world became known, Caesars found itself in a tight spot, with construction company Ssanye Construction unable to provide the $27.3 million it had promised.
South Korean media reports that the delay in getting things restarted isn’t sitting well with local leaders, warning that, if a ”Caesars Korea Composite Resort (RFCZ) of Midan City is not approved for business changes by March 17, the casino prior permission will be revoked if the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism and the Incheon Free Economic Zone Office get together on 14 June.” This is just the latest step backward for what was to be a huge step forward for Caesars in South Korea.
The massive project, at over 410,000 square feet, was first approved in 2014 when Caesars was given permission to bring the resort to life. Once construction is complete, the casino license would be issued, if approved, following a review by regulators of the property. However, issues have cropped up since everything first began, with multiple delays in timelines being introduced and local authorities are reportedly now short on patience.
Only about 25% of the construction has been complete, according to the media. If Caesars doesn’t figure out a quick solution, the facility could remain nothing more than an empty shell, a black eye on the Yeongjong Island skyline. The government is trying to work with Caesars to find a solution in time, with a government representative asserting, “We are continuing to provide guidance to the operator; [however,] if we do not apply for a business change within the period, it will be lost.”