Culture Minister Yoo Jin-ryong on Wednesday said that the government will change the current casino authorization process in order to sort out unfeasible and unhealthy casino plans from the initial stage.
Yoon said that the authorities will design the casino establishment first and seek the appropriate candidates rather than authorizing projects as they come. Currently, one only needs to present a plan ― without making any actual investment ― for investing more than $300 million in hotel and other leisure complexes in order to open a foreigner-only casino in free economic zones and other areas.
Recently, two proposals by the LOCZ, a joint venture of Chinese and American firms, and Japanese venture Universal Entertainment to build a leisure complex highlighting a foreigner-only casino in Yeongjongdo in Incheon were discarded due to “low credibility” and “bad reputation (ethics)” of the candidates. Incheon officials criticized the ministry for blowing what could be an opportunity to have 20,000 people hired, attract 4 million tourists and generate 10 trillion won in income.
“It is the government’s goal to attract foreign investment and I am here to give full support. But under the current system, we might see casinos everywhere. We will discern the need for the casino from the beginning and will be strict about screening the candidates,” Yoon said at a meeting with the press at the ministry headquarters in Seoul.
Yoo also said he will trim state support for “inefficient projects” in the next couple of years, most of them expected to be regional festivals and other unnecessary events.
“The ministry will reduce the number of state-subsidized projects to 1,000 by 2015 from the current 1,600.
“There are many festivals and events organized by regional governments that are a complete waste of money. We will be happy to provide consulting so that they could hold events on their own but we won’t simply pour money into them,” he said, adding that the Korea Culture and Tourism Institute is evaluating the efficiency of all current projects.
By Bae Ji-sook (email@example.com