Mohegan Gaming Targets Late 2022 to Open South Korea Casino at Incheon International Airport

Posted on: August 25, 2020, 01:37h. 

Last updated on: August 26, 2020, 11:52h.

US-based casino operator Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment (MGE) says it plans to open its multibillion-dollar casino resort in South Korea at Incheon International Airport in the second half of 2022.

Mohegan Gaming Inspire Incheon South Korea
Mohegan Gaming is bringing Las Vegas to South Korea with an integrated resort casino in Incheon. (Image: Yonhap)

Mohegan’s first foray outside of North America has been in the works for several years. Known as “Inspire Entertainment Resort,” construction on the first phase commenced in the spring of 2019. Despite setbacks from the COVID-19 pandemic, MGE officials say the integrated resort casino is still on track to open in the second half of 2022.

MGE told GGRAsia that slowdowns in construction caused by the coronavirus are actually being used to the company’s advantage. However, that’s allowing time for minor redesigns of the resort, with the goal to “create a post-COVID-19 experience that places focus on the safety of guests and employees.”

Along with South Korea, MGE recently won the gaming rights for a casino resort in Athens. MGE is owned by the Mohegan Tribe in Connecticut.

Airport Destination

US travelers typically dread the airport experience, but that’s not the case in South Korea. That’s especially true at Incheon International, the main air hub for Seoul, the country’s capital and largest city. Incheon International currently has private sleeping rooms, a golf course, spa, ice rink, video game center, the Museum of Korean Culture, an indoor garden, and a medical center.

Inspire will bring the complex three five-star luxury hotels with a combined 1,250 rooms, rooftop infinity pool, indoor and outdoor shopping, more than 40 restaurants, 15,000-seat theater, 120,000-square-foot convention center, and casino floor with 1,500 slot machines and 250 table games.

South Koreans will be prohibited from entering the casino, as only foreigners can gamble in the country. The one exception is Kangwon Land, a casino resort owned and operated by the South Korean government that is located in a remote region of the Gangwon Province.

Airports Council International, a global trade organization representing airport authorities, has ranked Incheon International its “Best Airport Worldwide” every year since 2005.

Travel Impact

Mohegan Sun pledged a capital commitment of $5 billion to the South Korean authorities in winning the Incheon Airport gaming license. The investment is to be made in several phases over 20 years, with a total completion deadline set for 2031.

The massive project, however, might not be as attractive to MGE in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Domestic and global air travel has been largely grounded, and traffic continues to be slow around the world.

Mohegan will need international passengers to capitalize on Inspire. MGE CEO Mario Kontomerkos recently told that the integrated resort industry is under-penetrated globally, and the immersive type of experience the destinations provide will continue to be attractive to governments and developers.

“I think you’re going to continue to see the expansion of integrated entertainment resorts, and we’ll be at the forefront,” Kontomerkos explained. “I do think that safety has always been at the top of our thinking in this industry — safety for our guests — and it is even more so now.”