A consortium led by Caesars Entertainment has made a million down payment on land the venture has earmarked for a resort casino near South Korea’s Incheon International Airport.
Caesars and its partners are looking to break ground on Yeongjong Island early next year and complete the development in phases, the first of which is pegged at US$845 million.
The project was conditionally approved for a gaming license in March, but is awaiting approval from the Incheon Development & Tourism Corp., the agency overseeing Incheon Free Economic Zone, which includes Yeongjong. Steven Tight, president of international development for Caesars, said the company hopes to get approved within eight months ahead of a possible first-phase opening in 2018.
Tight emphasized that Caesars’ plans for the site do not depend upon participation by Korean nationals.
“We really are not anticipating the law will allow locals into the casino portion of the development,” said Tight.
Caesars’ industry-high debt load of approximately $23 billion has been a concern for the South Korean government, which rejected the company for a license last year then announced at the end of 2013 that it was reconsidering that decision. Caesars has since pledged US$100 million to a non-escrow bank account in South Korea in addition to the joint venture’s initial capitalization of $50 million.
The other partners are Indonesian property giant Lippo Group and Singapore-based real estate developer OUE, which is 55 percent owned by Lippo.