The first South Korea casino resort in the country opens this week, but the timing couldn’t be worse, as the government prepares to launch test missiles in response to neighboring North Korea’s recent actions.
Paradise City is the first full-fledged integrated resort in the country, and is just minutes from Seoul’s Incheon International Airport. A joint project between Paradise Co Ltd, Korea’s largest gaming operator, and Sega Sammy Holdings, a Japanese slot and pachinko operator, the $1.12 billion resort is banking on Chinese visitors generating the bulk of its revenues.
Mainland China is just 200 miles from Incheon across the Yellow Sea. But as Paradise City opens on April 20, China has placed a temporary travel ban on its citizens from entering South Korea due to its upcoming missile launch tests.
“It’s a pity that, because of the missile issue, there might be fewer Chinese mass customers at first,” gaming analyst Yoo Seung-man toldReuters.
Trouble in Paradise
South Korean citizens are barred from gambling and even entering casinos, the exception being the remote Kangwon Land Casino & Hotel in Sabuk-eup. Gaming venues that do exist in the country solely rely on foreign travelers.
With China cracking down on high rollers allegedly moving money through its special gambling hub in Macau, Paradise City hopes to become a new destination for VIPs. But China is furious with South Korea for its planned missile launch display that is expected to take place in the coming weeks, if not days.
South Korea’s missile exhibition is in response to North Korea’s attempted missile launch last weekend. The United States and South Korea say the North’s launch was a failure.
South Korea designated land for its missile testing in February, and China issued a verbal directive to boycott the country days later. Chinese visitors venturing into South Korea plummeted 39 percent in March.
China heavily supports North Korea, which is why it’s blocking its citizens from entering South Korea in an effort to hurt the country economically. Many political and military experts believe that without China, there wouldn’t be a North Korea.
“With minimal exception of Russia, China is North Korea’s only window into the outside world and provides it much of its fuel, food and technical goods. It is vital to North Korea’s existence,” former US Ambassador James Jeffrey recently toldFOX Business.
Until China lifts its travel ban on South Korea, Paradise City says it will try and lure in visitors from other nearby nations including Japan. Like China, citizens of several Asian nations are barred from gambling at casinos in their home countries.
Japan is one such country that likely won’t allow its citizens to gamble at its planned casinos unabated. Paradise City will gladly welcome the Japanese, and even offers a contemporary Japanese restaurant inside the resort. Japan is onboard with South Korea and the US, and has vowed to shoot down any missile North Korea successfully launches.
Paradise City also hopes to attract foreign business travelers through its convention space, as well as non-gaming and family visitors on vacation. In addition to the casino and meeting areas, Paradise City has multiple pools, bowling alley, video game zone, and spa.