Korea Economic Daily quoted investment banking sources this week and announced that Grand Korea Leisure Co Ltd had  plans to enter into a partnership with the Mohegan Tribe  to construct a billion dollar casino complex near Seoul, Korea. However, today in the Korea Herald we see GKL seeming to distance themselves from the possibility. Company spokesman, Choi Ji-young, is quoted as saying, “It is true that we are conducting a feasibility study for a casino on the island, but no details (on the project) have been discussed yet,’’ and “Officials from Mohegan Sun visited the firm’s headquarters once, but the purpose of their visit was not related to talks on investment in Yeongjongdo,’’

This is not the first time that we have seen seemingly verifiable information be discounted later, such as when Suncity Group denied plans for a new casino on Phu Quoc Island in Vietnam after reports circulated quoting their CEO and government officials.

The Mohegan Tribe derives most of its revenue from five casinos in the United States. The tribe has tried to expand its operations in the United States but has so far been unable to secure a license to construct new casinos.

Earlier reports indicated that the now denied partnership would most likely build their casino on Yeongjong Island, which is a popular tourist destination. The mega casino resort was reported to include 1500 slot machines, 250 gaming tables, 1000 hotel rooms and a state of the art concert arena that would seat 20,000 people.

Many Asian gambling corporations in the past have targeted Macau when they wanted to expand operations as it is the biggest gambling hub in the world. However Macau’s casino traffic and revenues have significantly declined over the past 15 months since Beijing started its anti-corruption crackdown.

Macau’s casino industry has reportedly lost over $100 billion in 2014 and Beijing has advised Macau to change its image from being a gamblers paradise to one that promotes education, tourism and innovation. As a result, gambling enterprises are now looking for another prime location that promotes gambling and has lenient laws.

While countries like Vietnam, Cambodia and the Philippines continue to promote gambling, South Korea is emerging as a premiere destination. Confirmed proposals in the country include Resorts World Jeju, an Incheon project involving Caesars of Las Vegas/OUE Ltd of Singapore/Hong Kong Based Lippo Ltd., and a massive project on Silmi Island from Bloomberry/Solaire.

Other proposals include a Chow Tai Fook Enterprises Ltd. plan to construct a  $2.6 billion casino resort in the Incheon Free Economic Zone, and  Twentieth Century Fox World Korea in Changwon City. The government has already approved  a venture between South Korea’s Paradise Co Ltd and Japan’s Sega Sammy Holdings Inc. to build Paradise City.

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