Chow Tai Fook Enterprises Ltd, an affiliate of Incheon Jewellery Group of Hong Kong is planning to invest $2.6 billion in a casino resort in the Incheon Free Economic Zone near South Korea’s busiest airport, and close to the country’s capital, Seoul. Although the licensing process has not started yet, the Korean government has recently shown an openness to accept more casinos in the country as long as they only serve foreign visitors.
The Incheon area is very close to the Chinese border and tourism from the economic powerhouse with a rising middle-class increased more than 40% in 2014 over the previous year. More than half of all visitors to South Korean casinos come from China. Of the 20 currently operating casinos in the country only one, Kangwon Land Casino which opened in 2000, is open to citizens. Most of the casinos in the republic are located in upscale hotels, but more movement has come recently in bids to open integrated resorts.
In January, Bloomberry Resorts Corp (Solaire) signaled their interest in building an entertainment complex in the area when they purchased 30 acres on Muui Island. Landing International Development Ltd also recently announced plans to build a Myths and History Theme Park and casino on Jeju Island. Twentieth Century Fox World Korea will open in Changwon City in 2018. Other interests in Korean casinos include Caesars Entertainment with Lippo Ltd as well as Paradise Co and Sega Sammy Holdings Inc also planning resorts in the Incheon area. Further from the capital we see the North Jeolla provincial government possibly seeking approval for a casino in the Saemangeum area, about 3 hour’s flight from Seoul.
The Chow Tai Fook Incheon development is anticipated to include a hotel, convention facilities, shopping centers, entertainment venues, and a casino – with construction beginning this year and Phase I opening by 2019. The second phase of the project should be completed by 2022 – assuming they are granted a license. Chow Tai Fook has also expressed interest in developing casinos in Australia and Vietnam late last year.