Industry Reports

Mohegan Tribe Decides on a Sole Ownership of South Korean Casino Project

Connecticut’s Mohegan Tribe, a federally recognized tribal nation in the United States, has decided to purchase its partner’s stake in Project Inspire, a casino complex currently under development in South Korea. With the move, Mohegan Gaming and Entertainment reaches sole ownership of its first international project and boosts its diversification efforts in Asia, the fastest growing gaming and entertainment market today.

The news came as part of the company’s official Earnings Release for the second quarter of the 2018 fiscal year posted last week on its website. Mohegan Gaming and Entertainment (MGE) runs the Mohegan Sun casinos and resorts owned by the Indian Tribe in the United States and abroad. With Project Inspire the gaming operator did, in fact, crossed the borders for the first time back in 2015. A year later, it received a license from the South Korean government to develop and operate an integrated resort at Incheon International Airport. Its partners at the time, KCC Corporation and Incheon International Airport Corp., however, were not specifically named in the financial results report. MGE has now purchased the South Korean partner’s 24.5 per cent stake in the project at an undisclosed price.

Mario Kontomerkos, Chief Executive Officer of MGE, says in the press release that the company is pleased with its financial results and performance during the second fiscal quarter ended March 31, 2018. During the same period, he adds, MGE has reached an “amicable agreement” with its partner for acquiring the stakes of Project Inspire and now it expects the addition of Mohegan Sun Exposition and Convention Center in Connecticut this summer. The tribe owns several casino resorts, including the Mohegan Sun, a gaming and entertainment complex located on reservation land in Connecticut, and the gaming and entertainment facility Mohegan Sun Pocono in Plains Township, Pennsylvania.

MGE, the tribe’s company that manages its gaming operations, has expanded its reach with several other properties, namely the Resorts Casino Hotel in Atlantic City and the ilani Casino Resort near La Center, Washington State. It also operates the Paragon Casino Resort in Louisiana.

Incheon’s Project Inspire to Open by 2020

Project Inspire is an ambitious, multi-phase integrated resort which will include three luxury hotel towers, home to 1,350 five and six-star rooms, according to MGE’s plans. The large-scale development will also boast the largest entertainment arena in South Korea with up to 15,000 seats, as well as a Korean cosmetics and beauty hub, an amusement park, and an Eco Adventure Park. The complex will also have 20,000 square meters of luxury retail space and more than 20 food and beverage outlets.

One of its highlights, however, will be the ultra-modern casino facility located over an area of 20,000 square meters. In terms of gaming options, it will host 250 gaming tables and 1,500 slot machines. While the company estimates Phase I at $1.6 billion, the total investment planned for the project will reach $5 billion spent over multiple phases. The complex will be the first MGE resort outside of the US. In addition, it will be the first and destination resort in the world with an adjacent private air terminal.

MGE’s Project Inspire, slated to open in 2020 or 2021, is seen as a huge opportunity for growth and development, as it would be the only integrated entertainment resort in Northern Asia and in a strategic proximity to Shanghai, Beijing, Seoul, and Tokyo. Connecticut’s publication The Day reported this week that MGE plans to invest no more than $300 million in the casino complex, while for the remainder of the needed funding, it will look for refinancing.