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South Korea Does About-Face and Indicates Openness to Casino Firms

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After taking criticism for rejecting major casino bids last year, the Korean government indicates it will loosen standards, inviting foreign investors back in.

After South Korea rejected bids by Vegas-based Caesar’s Entertainment and Japan’s Universal Entertainment last June, some unidentified officials expressed considering for revising Korean gambling laws, thereby “easing the bidding standards” on new casino ventures.

While no official reason for the rejections has been given, observers generally believe that the two firms failed to meet Korea’s particularly stringent credit requirements. If recent statements are credible, the government will ease credit standards to allow in more foreign investment.

Caesar’s, Universal come knocking for second time

Caesar’s, in a joint venture with the Indonesian firm Lippo, submitted a fresh bid in December, proposing a $2 billion project in the special economic zone of Yeongjongdo. Universal followed suit by purchasing property in Yeongjongdo.

In an intriguing move which made big gambling news, the American firm PNC Financial Services submitted a $6.5 billion bid for a resort casino, although it is uncertain whom would operate the company’s gaming branch.

The government is expected to formalize new, eased credit requirements sometime this month. This is welcome news for potential investors, who view uncertainty as the worst possible ingredient for doing business.

While the results of the recent rounds of bidding are yet to be known, one can expect the special economic zone of Yeongjongdo to be booming with casino construction in upcoming years. In fact, you can bet on it.

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