In South Korea and a senior official with the Incheon Free Economic Zone (IFEZ) has reportedly announced that the district is hoping to one day play host to a ‘cluster’ of up to seven integrated casino resorts.
According to a report from GGRAsia, Nicholas Kim serves as Service Industry Division Project Manager for the IFEZ and made the revelation during an interview conducted at last week’s G2E Asia @ the Philippines exhibition in Manila.
The official reportedly detailed that the IFEZ’s efforts are being centered around its Yeongjong Island, which is already home to the $1.7 billion Paradise City integrated casino resort from Japanese pachinko giant Sega Sammy Holdings Incorporated and Seoul-listed Paradise Company Limited, in an effort to bring ‘more diverse experiences and concepts’ to the low-tax precinct.
GGRAsia reported that Yeongjong Island is also the location for Incheon International Airport, which is South Korea’s main air hub, and is expecting to welcome the $1.6 billion Project Inspire development from Mohegan Gaming and Entertainment by the end of 2022. The island connected to the city of Incheon by a pair of bridges largely consists of reclaimed land and could moreover soon be home to the $700 million Caesars Casino Incheon from Las Vegas-headquartered Caesars Entertainment Corporation.
Alongside all of these, GGRAsia reported that the IFEZ has furthermore granted Filipino firm Bloombery Resorts Corporation permission to build its non-gaming Solaire Ocean Resort on nearby Muui Island.
However, Kim reportedly declared that the IFEZ is working to attract a further two to three such schemes featuring hotels, conference spaces, entertainment facilities and retail areas so as to create up to 20,000 additional jobs. The official purportedly moreover stated that the authority is looking to bring up to $10 billion in total investment to Yeongjong Island and will appeal to firms that may have missed out on the opportunity to secure one of the three coming Japanese casino licenses.
Kim reportedly told the source that Japan is set to be the ‘biggest competitor’ for any casino-friendly zone in South Korea although he believes that the $10 billion minimum investment provision attached to each one of its neighbor’s trio of licenses could lead international operators to look elsewhere with Incheon and ‘maybe Vladivostok’ the only viable alternatives.
“Also, the IFEZ will ensure at every step that the integrated casino resort investor gets a proper casino licence from our government. We can waive the local corporate tax, customs duties, local acquisition tax and property tax. It is already in our benefit package, which is in the law.”
As South Korea and Japan have been ‘similarly affected’ by a recent slump in the numbers of outbound Chinese tourists, Kim finally reportedly pronounced that a $600 million investment on Yeongjong Island would represent a lower gamble for casino operators when compared with the ‘$10 billion invested on a Japanese project.’
“This is the reason why the IFEZ’ model places a big emphasis on gaming and non-gaming balance. The IFEZ’ model is maybe less profitable but it is also less risky than a Japanese one.”