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South Korea – Sands shows its Seoul with South Korean proposal

By - 5 September 2014

Las Vegas Sands has proposed a Marina Bay Sands style integrated resort in South Korea allowing locals to gamble to the government in Seoul.

George Tanasijevich, Managing Director of Global Development, and CEO of Marina Bay Sands in Singapore, confirmed the Las Vegas-based operator was analysing the potential of South Korea as its next big project.

He described South Korea as ‘a top development opportunity for our industry, for our company.’
South Korea is Asia’s fourth-largest economy. Mr. Tanasijevich said Sands was looking for a site to support Sand’s business model and has gone as far as officially proposing to the Seoul government that the operator build ‘a truly iconic building’ in Jamsil at the site of the 1988 Olympic Games stadium in southern Seoul. Meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions would be central to the plan. Mr. Tanasijevich confirmed that Sands would look to relocate the baseball stadium, building a 40,000-seat dome, year-round facility that could be used for sporting and other events every day of the year. The aim would be to make Korea a ‘world leader in MICE business’ with a development boasting ‘iconic architecture’ making it a ‘major tourist attraction for Korea’ close to the area’s waterfront.

South Korea locals are only currently allowed to gamble in the government-owned Kangwon Land casino about a three and a half hour drive from the capital. GGR in South Korea came in at US$ 2.7bn in 2013, more than the Philippines’ US$ 2.6bn but less than Singapore’s US$6.4bn

Mr. Tanasijevich said a necessary element for the project’s success would be the approval of locals to gamble which he said would dispel any suspicions. He added though that appropriate entry barriers could be applied to limit locals gambling as in Singapore but they would be critical to a project of the proposed magnitude.

He highlighted Sands’ success in Singapore where a model is used to protect the vulnerable to make sure that those who do play do so responsibly.

South Korea is seen by several operators as being ripe for large-scale resort development.

South Korean operator Paradise and Sega Sammy Holdings are developing a joint project near Incheon airport, which is set to open in 2017. The two companies will begin construction of South Korea’s first integrated resort in October.

Genting Singapore plans to build a US$2.2bn casino resort in South Korea’s Jeju Island including 120 tables, 400 slots and 300 electronic gaming tables. Featuring roller coasters, hotels with castle-like facades and replicas of monuments like the Taj Mahal and the Pyramids, the iconic destination is aiming to be Jeju South Korea is home to 17 casinos with all bit one of those being foreigner-only casinos, half of which are owned by local operator Paradise and state-owned Grand Korea Leisure. Paradise said that Chinese players made up around 60 per cent of its player database, accounting for more than 80 per cent of 2013’s revenue.

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