Caesars under pressure to finish South Korea casino

By Noah Taylor Updated
Caesars pulls the pin on Incheon project 

Caesars Entertainment is racing to finish an integrated resort project in South Korea or risk forfeiting its licence.

The casino giant is rushing to finish its Midan City resort on Yeonjong Island.

Construction of the $700 million project has been halted since February 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Nevada-based gaming company has committed $140 million to the project and is partnering on it with China’s Guangzhou R&F Properties.

But additional financing has been hard to procure.

Just 25 per cent of the construction work is complete.

Reports surfaced last week that authorities in Seoul are growing tired of the lack of progress on the endeavour and are giving Caesars two months to get its house in order or risk losing the gaming permit.

The US gaming company was approved for the project in 2014.

Caesars Korea is designed to be a foreigners only casino with more than 720 rooms, suites and villas.

Caesars Korea Composite Resort is the entity that controls the project and that firm owns the land free and clear as of June 2018.

Caesars isn’t the only US-based operator encountering some headwinds in South Korea.

Last August, Mohegan Gaming and Entertainment said it plans to open its multi billion dollar casino resort in South Korea at Incheon International Airport in the second half of 2022.

That venue, dubbed Inspire, is now slated to open in early 2023, with the tribal gaming giant saying it expects to wrap financing on the endeavour this year.

There are significant differences between MGE and Caesars when it comes to international expansion though.

Mohegan views markets outside the US as integral to its success and is putting its money where its mouth is.

In addition to the South Korea venture, MGE is working on an integrated resort in Athens, Greece.

Conversely, Caesars’ international plans were formulated under a previous management regime.

Now under the control of the Eldorado Resorts executives that orchestrated the 2020 takeover of the Harrah’s operator, international expansion plans aren’t new Caesars’ top priority.

Following Eldorado’s June 2019 $17.3 billion acquisition offer, Caesars departed integrated resort bidding competitions in Australia, Greece and Japan.

Further proof of Caesars’ intent to focus on the United States is found in its pending acquisition of UK sportsbook operator William Hill.

When that deal is finalised, it’s widely expected Caesars will rapidly sell the target’s international businesses and perhaps try to package its UK casinos into that transaction.

Caesars to revamp New Orleans casino

A New Orleans casino is set for a major facelift after Caesars Entertainment announced it will spend $325 to redesign the resort and add a second town.

Calvin Ayre reported in December that Harrah’s New Orleans, owned by Caesars, is expected to undergo the transformation, due to be completed by 2024, if the development is approved by the city of New Orleans and the Louisiana Gaming Control Board.

In the announcement, Caesars chief executive Tom Reeg said: “As the only land-based gaming operator in the city, we take great pride in our 20-year history in New Orleans, and this reinvestment is a testament to our continued commitment.”

“We will continue to move this city forward and fuel our economic recovery, moving important projects that put people to work and entertain residents and visitors alike,” added LaToya Cantrell, Mayor of New Orleans.

“We are excited that this expansion will mean hundreds of construction jobs during the project and hundreds more in sustainable and new jobs post-construction.

“The addition of Caesars New Orleans will strengthen our city’s position as the top cultural and entertainment destination city in the nation.”

Louisiana legislature has already agreed to the plan, giving it permission when they extended the casino’s licence to 2054.

The expansion will allow for a 340-room hotel, a carport, facelift for existing features and new food and hospitality offerings.

More is expected to be announced in the future.

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