Caesars seen as winning Korean casino license

Jun 3, 2013 8:11 PM

Citing “local press reports,” a research company says Caesars Entertainment Inc. (CZR) has been chosen by Korean officials to receive its “one foreign-only casino license” to locate a facility in the city of Incheon.

An official announcement was expected “in June.”

First word of the local “rumor” was reported by Sera Oh, an analyst for UBS Investment Research.

According to Oh, the report resulted from an interview the local press had with the mayor of Incheon. The report was said to have been “almost confirmed” by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism.

Reportedly there were two applicants for the foreign-only casino license. Besides Caesars, which does not have experience operating an Asian casino, the other applicant was Kazuo Okada, the Japanese pachinko manufacturer, who has been embroiled in a legal battle with Steve Wynn over his investment in Wynn Resorts Ltd. (WYNN).

It was felt if Caesars truly is chosen for the license, the company will seek a local partner since the company does not have strong relationships with the Korean government and lacks experience in “foreign-only” casino business in Korea.

If an Incheon casino is built, observers said it probably would not be completed before 2016 when competition from an expanded Cotai Strip in Macau would be fierce. Attracting the so-called VIP visitor from China would be difficult because of the established businesses in Macau.

Ray Poirier is the longtime executive editor at GamingToday.

Contact Ray at [email protected].

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