Many casino companies mull a bet on Yeongjong

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Many casino companies mull a bet on Yeongjong

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The concept for Paradise City, an entertainment complex equipped with casino, hotel and convention center. The first phase of the complex is to open in March 2017 and the final in 2022. Provided by Paradise Segasammy

A casino-oriented resort area in Incheon was launched last week to attract Chinese tourists.

On Thursday, Paradise Segasammy held a groundbreaking ceremony for Paradise City in Yeongjong Island, Incheon. Paradise Segasammy is a joint venture between Korea’s Paradise Group of Korea and Japan’s Sega Sammy Holdings.

The site is in the International Business District on the southwestern end of Yeongjong Island, 1.1 kilometers (0.7 mile) from Incheon International Airport.

Paradise Segasammy is planning a five-star hotel with 711 rooms, a convention center and a casino exclusively for foreigners and an investment of 1.9 trillion won ($1.7 billion) on 330,000 square meters (81.5 acres) of land.

The casino, which will be the biggest in Korea, will have 160 gaming tables and 350 slot machines. The hotel and casino will open in March 2017, and the entire complex will open in 2022.

Other features will be K-plaza, where visitors can experience K-pop as well as Korean food, fashion and art, and there will be a spa with a jjimjilbang, a Korean public bath house. “[Paradise Segasammy] will create Northeast Asia’s leading resort, where visitors can relax, play games and enjoy cultural experiences,” said the company’s CEO Choi Jong-hwan.

In addition to Paradise City, several other resorts with casinos are in the works for Yeongjong Island. The sites are Midan City in Unbuk-dong, northeastern Yeongjong island, and Unseo-dong, central Yeongjong Island.

LOCZ Korea, a consortium of China’s Lippo Group and Caesars Entertainment of the United States, will build a resort and shopping mall by investing 2.3 trillion won. The casino and resort will be completed by 2018 and the shopping mall is expected to open in 2023. LOCZ Korea is scheduled to sign a contract on the land this year and will start construction next year.

Chow Tai Fook Enterprises want to build a resort in Midan City. The Hong Kong-based company sent a letter of intent to invest $1 billion to Incheon city. Another Chinese real estate development company, Long Runn Investment Group, also signed a memorandum of understanding to buy land to build a resort in Midan City.

These investors are targeting Chinese tourists. Casinos in Korea, in fact, overflow with Chinese. Almost 80 percent of the customers at Sheraton Grande Walkerhill Hotel in Seoul and Paradise Casinos located in various parts of the country, including Busan and Jeju, are from China. During the second quarter, VIP customers among the Chinese gamblers bet almost 837 billion won in the casinos.

The big issue is whether the casinos on Yeongjong will have a competitive edge compared to rivals in Macau and Singapore. Geographically, Yeongjong is much closer to the northeast area in China, Choi said. Also the hallyu cultural experience area within Paradise City could attract youke.

As Paradise City’s construction kicked off, some unsold apartments nearby have seen rising demand. More than a thousand of 1,300 units in an apartment complex in Yeongjong Sky City were empty, but with discounted prices and new developments announced, most of the units have been purchased.

Compared to early this year, apartment prices rose about 30 percent on average, said a realtor on Yeongjong. There are many inquiries from Seoul.

“Apartments on Yeongjong were relatively cheap compared to those in Cheongna and Songdo in Incheon. But now they are rising,” said Park Won-gap, a real estate expert at KB Kookmin Bank.

“However, it’s important to note that foreign investors may change their minds [to invest] depending on the global economy.”


BY CHOI MO-RAN [eunjik@joongang.co.kr]

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