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Rules on casino investment to be eased

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February 4, 2014

Rules on casino investment to be eased

The government said Monday that it will ease regulations on the issuance of casino licenses to international investors.

The plan was disclosed at a meeting presided over by President Park Geun-hye on how to boost the tourism industry.

Up until now, foreign investors in casinos have been required to have credit ratings of higher than BBB.

?We will ease the restrictions,? said an official from the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism (MCST). ?Even if bidders cannot meet the conditions, they can be licensed in case they stand out in other areas like financial capacity. The government does have to win the nod of the National Assembly for the rule change because it is an executive ordinance.?

It would be welcome news for global casino operators, which have strived to make a foray into Asia?s No. 4 economy.

For example, LOCZ Korea has sought to build a mega-sized casino resort on the Yeongjong Island near Incheon International Airport through investing a total of 1.23 trillion won.

Yet, the ambitious project suffered a setback midway through last year when the MCST rejected it and one of the reasons was that the joint venture failed to meet the qualifications on the credit ratings.

To form the LOCZ Korea, U.S. casino operator Caesars Entertainment joined hands with Indonesian conglomerate Lippo Group and a local third party.

However, the country has no immediate plan to introduce such drastic measures as allowing locals to gamble at casinos ??all 17 such places currently under operation in Korea permit only foreigners to play.

Domestic tour promotion

In the meeting, Park also came up with a plan for encouraging Koreans to tour the country so that the domestic tourism market size might reach 30 trillion won by 2017, up by 25 percent from last year.

Through those efforts, she said that the related jobs would amount to 1 million from 850,000 today.

?Compared to advanced economies, Korea depends too much on foreign tourists. A growing number of our people travel overseas, but they are not much interested in?touring their own country,? Park said.

?We need to change this based on a set of policies, like enabling people to take more days off during weekdays? The development of dedicated programs would also be a good idea.?

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Source The Korea Times, http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/news/nation/2014/02/116_150919.html

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