Monday, March 17, 2014

What happens in Vegas stays in Incheon?

After years of intense lobbying, LOCZ is rumored to be about to get an official agreement for its casino project in Yeongjong-do*. That's the little name of the Ceasars Entertainment Corporation - Lippo Group JV mentioned in my focus last October on Incheon's Las Vegas ambitions (see "Paradise City v. Sin City").

Awarding the first foreign license to a US-Indonesia duo would certainly balance casino geopolitics in the region. Too bad for Japan (pachinko kings Universal Entertainment), or Macau (Melco International Development, headed by Stanley Ho's son Lawrence), but they may get another chance later.

For the moment, Caesars only operates in the US, Uruguay, the UK, and Egypt, and an entry point in Asia could be a game changer. They did operate a golf in Macau, but had to pull out a couple of years ago from a market very much locked by local players. It's very difficult for outsiders to make it that SAR, even if you're from Hong-Kong - look how Lau and Lo struggle with the law these days**!

Again, casino-wise, Incheon would be the ideal counterweight to Macau, less than two hours away from key East Asian markets, starting with Beijing and even Shanghai: PVG is 500 miles away from ICN, vs 800 for MFM.

Now whoever wins the keys to this future Sin City, let's hope they hire designers with a better taste than what we've seen so far in Incheon:

ICN's cult sculpture "flying to the future", the single-balled erection that has the whole world guffaw as soon as they land in Korea

Last time EightCity*** disclosed their masterplan (2012), I wondered how they would name this strange neighborhood: Dong-dong?

Seoul Village 2014
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* see "Seoul to OK casino project on Yeongjong" (Korea Times - 20140316)
** that's Joseph Lau Luen-hung and Steven Lo Kit-sing, who face prison there, see "Legal loophole may let Hong Kong tycoons escape jail in Macau"
*** codename for the developers of the new town: Kempinski, Korean Air, Daewoo Engineering & Construction, CandS Corporation

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