In a surprising (some say shocking) announcement on Friday, South Korean officials informed Reuters that both bids for preliminary casino licenses had been rejected.
According to a Reuters report, the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism said that the request of both Caesars Entertainment Corp. and Kazuo Okada’s Universal Entertainment Corp. had been rejected. No reason was given for the rejections.
Observers considered the decision surprising because it went against the government’s interest in using a casino license as a lure to increasing tourism to the country. Just where that program now stands remained a mystery following the announcement.
Only recently, it was strongly speculated that Caesars Entertainment’s proposal, coupled with that of the Lippo Limited consortium, to build an integrated resort in Incheon, would be accepted and that the announcement was due momentarily.
The government had indicated that it wanted to foster programs that would boost tourism and private investment in designated economic zones.
Privately, it was felt that Caesars’ huge debt service might have influenced the government’s decision while Universal has been under investigation for its activities in the Philippines where it planned to build a casino in Manila.
Following the Reuters announcement, Bloomberg News reported that Universal Entertainment said that a third-party committee it had formed found no evidence to show the company had made bribery payments to receive it Manila license.
The committee, Universal said, consisted of a former Japan National Police Agency official and two lawyers.
Ray Poirier is the longtime executive editor at GamingToday.
Contact Ray at [email protected].