South Korea To Build $290 Billion Casino City To Rival Macau, Las Vegas

 @MarkJohansonIBT on October 31 2012 2:14 PM
Macau
Macau’s gambling revenue hit a record $38 billion in 2012, according to the Gaming Bureau. REUTERS

Forget Gangnam style, get ready for Incheon style.

The South Korean port city of Incheon has partnered with a group of investors to construct Eightcity, a massive $290 billion leisure and gaming destination to rival Macau and Las Vegas, by 2030, the developer said Wednesday.

Shareholders -- including Korean Air, Daewoo and luxury hotel operator Kempinski -- say the Eightcity project will feature hotels and casinos, shopping malls, K-pop performance venues, a Formula 1 racing course, theme parks, a marina and even ski resorts. The new destination is to be constructed on a 32 square-mile (80 square-kilometer) site on Yongyu-Muui Island near the Incheon International Airport.

Construction for the destination, which is slated to be three times the size of Macau, is set to begin on the small fishing island next year and includes roads and other infrastructure developments in Incheon, about 25 miles (40k) west of the capital Seoul.

Korea designated several of Incheon’s districts, like Yongyu-Muui, as free economic zones in the early 2000s with the goal of strengthening foreign investment in Asia’s fourth-largest economy.

Eight is an auspicious number for Chinese, and developers hope the name Eightcity will help draw mainland visitors away from Macau and into Korea.

Chinese outbound tourists are expected to exceed 100 million by 2015 and developers hope by building the city in the shape of the number eight, they can capture a large share of those travelers. In fact, they expect 134 million visitors a year, and say the city will create up to 930,000 jobs for the region.

‘‘It will become the world’s top city that has the creativity of Dubai, convention centers and casinos of Las Vegas and Macau, as well as the shopping centers and financial hubs of Hong Kong and Singapore,’’ Park Seong-Hyun, vice chairman of Eightcity Co., told a group of reporters gathered in Seoul on Wednesday, the AP reports.

Seong-Hyun said Eightcity secured about $2.8 billion from local investors and about $1 billion from Britain’s Sanbar Development Corp. Most of the money will likely be used to compensate the island’s residents, while billions more will be used to reclaim land and build the actual infrastructure over the next 18 years.

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