South Korea currently has 17 casinos, but only Kangwon Land in the Kangwon province allows locals to gamble. This has become a stumbling block for Las Vegas Sands, as its business model dictates the casino at what will be part of a so-called “MICE (meeting, incentive tour, convention and exhibition) focused resort” should be open to all. However, Tanasijevich is hopeful the necessary legislation will pass through South Korea’s National Assembly as, he insisted, “the casino will occupy less than 5 per cent of the total integrated resort area.”
Tanasijevich admitted it might be a long process to persuade the South Korean government and people of the positive impact the development could bring, but he claimed that public opinion was warming to the idea, particularly when informed that the casino would take up such a modest area of the entire resort. Locals would have to pay an entry fee to play at the casino, with restrictions placed on them if they are deemed to be “financially at risk”, a model that has previously worked at the company’s Marina Bay Sands resort in Singapore.
The latest casino group to receive a licence to build a resort in South Korea is Mohegan Sun, a tribal gaming firm based in Connecticut in the US. It will open premises at Incheon International Airport at a cost of $5 billion. Las Vegas Sands prices its project at $10 billion, but claims it is not capped at that amount, with the potential to increase depending on the size of the project allowed by any ruling in the company’s favour.
Las Vegas Sands must now wait to see if South Korea’s National Assembly has been won over by its efforts, although the country’s government is yet to make clear its thoughts on the proposal.