Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment (MGE), headquartered in Uncasville, Connecticut announced late last week that the company plans to break ground on the Inspire Integrated Resort adjacent to the Incheon International Airport in South Korea before the end of the year. MGE own and operate Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, CT as well as own or operate casinos in Atlantic City, Washington state, Pennsylvania, and Louisiana.

MGE chief executive, Mitchell Grossinger Etess said in a press release announcing 3rd Quarter results on July 27: “The company is well into the planning stage of its Korean joint venture, Project Inspire, where we anticipate breaking ground before the end of calendar 2017.”

The Inspire Resort is a joint venture of the MGE (formerly Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority) the Incheon International Airport Corp., and KCC Corp., South Korean chemicals, and auto parts manufacturer.

All told, the consortium’s investment in the integrated casino resort is expected to reach US$5 billion when completed in 20 years. The first phase, expected to be completed within 3-4 years, will see some $1.6 billion invested and is the Uncasville casino operator’s first venture into the overseas casino market.

Being located next to one of the world’s busiest airports could prove quite lucrative. Koreans are not permitted to gamble in their own casinos, except for the remote Kangwon Land Casino, located far away from the country’s population centers. However, South Koreans are expected to be drawn to the resort for a variety of non-gaming attractions.  200,000 square feet of retail, food, art, and music entertainment space are planned for the resort in addition to casino gaming and first-class accommodations. The South Korean culture, including K-Pop, will be celebrated and there are plans to share Native American culture as well, according to earlier reports.

Phase I should open by 2020 with a 5-star luxury hotel complex including three towers and more than 1,300 guestrooms and suites; an indoor-outdoor amusement park by Paramount Studios; and a 215,000 square foot casino offering 1,500 slot machines and as many as 250 gaming tables.

According to the Operating Results released last week, MGE’s capital expenditure for the project reached US$14.6 million for the first three-quarters of FY-2017 that ended June 30.

All numbers were up year on year except for gross slot revenues, which were flat overall at $205.5 million. For the second quarter, MGE had net revenues of $350 million, up more than 8% over the same period last year. By June 30 the company had posted net income of $43.8, an increase of more than 68% year on year.