Revenues fall at South Korea’s foreigner-only casinos

By Noah Taylor Updated
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The operator of South Korea foreigner-only casinos said that its sales declined by more than one third in January, with year-on-year sales down almost two-thirds.

GGR Asia reports that Paradise Co said its January sales fell 36.2 per cent month-on-month and 61.8 per cent when compared to a year ago.

The group’s January casino revenue amounted to US$24.5 million, a decrease on the US$38.2 billion achieved in December and down further than the US$63.9 billion achieved last January.

Machine-game sales for January were up 28.7 per cent compared to December, but down more than 54 per cent compared to the prior year.

Paradise Co’s gaming operators include Walkerhill in Seoul, Jeju Grand on Jeju Island, Busan Casino in Busan and Paradise City in Incheon, near the company’s main international airport.

Paradise Casino Walkerhill had reopened on January 4, having been closed since December 15 as a COVID-19 countermeasure.

Caesars under pressure to finish South Korea casino

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

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