South Korea rejects Casino Bids from Caesars, Others

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While several Asian countries are cashing in on a gambling boom right now, South Korea has held tight with their conservative culture and resisted many foreign casino investments. It doesn’t look as if this will change any time soon either because South Korea has just rejected casino applications from major international bidders.

Those seeking casino licenses in the Seoul area included Japanese mogul Kazuo Okada’s Universal Entertainment Corp. as well as a group that included Caesars Entertainment Corp. and Indonesia’s Lippo Group.

A ministry spokesperson said that the applications were rejected because they didn’t “meet qualifications.” Any business seeking a casino license needs to score 800-1,000 points in categories ranging from investment size to financial health. Going further, the ministry had concerns over Caesars’ finances and Universal’s relatively little experience with casino gaming.

There’s a strong chance that Caesars will appeal the South Korea ministry’s decision. The company said that they believe their application met the government’s requirements and will consider exercising a 90-day appeal window. It’s unclear what Universal will do because their spokesman, Nobuyuki Horiuchi, declined comment.

Caesars had a pretty clear vision in regard to their potential South Korea casino. Steven Tight, who is Caesars’ president of international development, said that their proposal would include 100 gambling tables, 150 slot machines, 600 hotel rooms, and various other entertainment facilities.

As reported by the Wall Street Journal, South Korea is still in the process of deciding what direction their tourism strategy will go in. The country currently features 17 casinos, and only foreigners can bet at these establishments. However, some politicians want to see gaming expanded so that locals can also bet on the games.

But in order for this to happen, the government wants a larger investment from casino operators. Perhaps this is what happened in Caesars case, which was rejected on the grounds of financial concerns.

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