Mohegan Gaming Raises US$1.55B For South Korea Resort

Mohegan Gaming and Entertainment announce funding for its new South Korea integrated resort as the country re-enters COVID restrictions.

There is a lot of uncertainty around gambling in Asia right now after police arrested Suncity CEO Alvin Chau in Macau last week.  Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment (MGE) is pressing ahead with plans for an integrated resort in South Korea despite this.

MGE is the business arm of the Mohegan Tribe, a sovereign, federally-recognised Indian tribe with a reservation in South East Connecticut. It operates several major, established casinos in the United States. These include Mohegan Sun, Fallsview Casino Resort, in addition to the Mohegan Sun Casino at Virgin Hotels Las Vegas. The Indian tribe has its sights set internationally with South Korea first on the agenda.

INSPIRE Entertainment Resort at the Icheon International Airport on Yeongjong Island in Icheon, South Korea, near Seoul opens in 2023. MGE states it boasts three hotel towers, in addition to a 15,000 seat area, plus convention facilities. Furthermore, the foreigners-only casino features an indoor water part, and a family theme part spread over 1,000 acres. The South Korea casino has 250,000 square feet of gaming floor, hosting 1,500 pokies in addition to dozens of table games.

South Korea Tourism Spike Cited For New Casino

The new South Korea casino is located where scores of international passengers frequent It is an East Asian travel and cargo hub that sees well over one million passenger arrivals and departures each month across 20,000 flights. These are the potential customers MGE is targetting with the new resort.

MGE’s impressive track record in the United States means the South Korea venture will succeed. Those are the thoughts of James Gessner Jr, the Chairman of The Mohegan Tribe.

“We have a proven track record in developing and operating leading integrated entertainment resorts in North America with our successes in Connecticut, Las Vegas, and Niagara Falls, and we look forward to taking this success abroad as the first American IR launched in Korea.”

MGE has raised a massive US$1.55 billion in funding to finance the South Korea project. Bobby Soper, MGE’s International President, explained the decision to choose South Korea for the resort.

“We anticipate a significant rebound in the tourism and leisure industry following the pandemic, and we look forward to contributing to the Korean economy while at the same time opening and operating a successful, state-of-the-art resort. I am thrilled to see our international vision for IR development reach this important milestone.”

New COVID-19 Travel Restrictions in the Country

The timing of MGE’s announcement could not have been worse. South Korea imposed new travel restrictions on the same day. The South Korean government reintroduced travel and quarantine rules for new arrivals into the country.

Restrictions came into play from December 3 and run through to at least December 17. Anyone entering South Korea, including South Korean nationals, face a 10-day quarantine. The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency is extremely strict on the matter.

“All foreign nationals entering the country must be tested four times for COVID-19 while in quarantine. Temporary living facilities will be used to quarantine short-stay foreign nationals. Foreign nationals staying for longer period and South Korean citizens will be required to remain at their residence.”

Restrictions Blow to Recovering Casino Trade

The new South Korea restriction struck a major blow to Jeju Shinhwa World. This is a local resort that welcomed a group of international travellers from Singapore on November 29. The visitors marked the first time in almost two years that internationals visited the country.

Casino officials hoped the event signalled post-COVID recovery. However, the new restrictions plunges recovery efforts into doubt.

South Korea is in the middle of a surge of new COVID-19 infections. It averages more than 5,200 new case per day, taking its total towards 500,000. Furthermore, the virus has killed almost 4,000 Koreans.

The new Omicrom variant worries the government. It has detected five cases, resulting in additional travel bans for South African and, likewise, Nigerian travellers.