Mohegan Gaming taking sole ownership of South Korea casino project

Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment, Mohegan Sun’s parent, has reached an “amicable” agreement to buy out its partner’s stake in a South Korea casino project, making it the sole owner of the $1.6 billion venture.

The agreement was reached in the quarter that ended March 31, MGE executives announced late last week during an earnings call with investors and gaming-industry analysts. Mario Kontomerkos, MGE’s chief executive officer, called the transaction “a very important step.”

A South Korean company had purchased a 24.5 percent stake in the project in 2015.

“We view our position in Korea as highly advantageous, as when we open we will be the only true integrated entertainment resort in Northern Asia — an enviable position given our proximity to Shanghai, Beijing, Seoul and Tokyo … some of the largest (metropolitan) areas in the world,” Kontomerkos said. “In aggregate they carry some of the most affluent, mobile and fastest-growing populations on the planet.”

Dubbed Project Inspire, the Incheon, South Korea, resort is to include multiple hotel towers, a 15,000-seat arena, an indoor-outdoor amusement park and a 20,000-square-foot casino with 250 gaming tables and 1,500 slot machines. Groundbreaking is expected to take place during the second half of this year, followed by an opening in 2021.

Kontomerkos said MGE expects to invest no more than $300 million in the project while financing the rest of the cost.

MGE reported during the earnings call that its overall net revenues during the last quarter totaled $332 million, a 1.4 percent decrease over the same quarter a year earlier. In addition to Mohegan Sun, its flagship casino, MGE owns and operates Mohegan Sun Pocono in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., and manages casinos in Atlantic City; La Center, Wash.; and Marksville, La.

Mohegan Sun accounted for $260.4 million in net revenues during the quarter, a 1.8 percent decline over the previous year. Gaming revenues were down 1.6 percent; nongaming revenues were down 1.4 percent.

b.hallenbeck@theday.com

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