South Korea Announces $1.85B Expansion of Kangwon Land Casino Resort

The government of South Korea has announced a 250 trillion Korean won (US$1.85 billion) expansion of Kangwon Land that will more than triple the size of its casino floor.

Kangwon Land, the only place in South Korea where locals can gamble legally, is set for a major expansion. The property controlled by the South Korean government is set for a nearly $1.9 billion expansion that will more than triple the size of the gaming floor. (Image: Kangwon Land, Inc.)

The South Korean government, which owns and operates the casino resort, revealed that the country will invest nearly $1.9 billion into the destination. Along with expanding the casino space from 167,000 square feet to nearly 533,000 square feet, the venture will bring a cultural complex and a new hotel to the destination.

A wellness center set in the surrounding forest and attractions connected to the region’s deep coal mining industry are also in the works. The project additionally includes added convention space to lure large international gatherings.

Kangwon Land is the only casino made available for residents of South Korea. The country’s other casinos are explicitly reserved for foreigners.

Kangwon Land is located in a remote area of the Kangwon Province best known for its many coal mining facilities. The sprawling casino resort is owned by the Korean government’s Ministry of Trade, Industry, and Energy and the Kangwon Province’s Development Corporation.

Fending Off Japan 

The Kangwon Land investment comes as MGM Resorts International embarks on building Japan’s first casino resort in Osaka. The more than $8 billion MGM Osaka is slated to open in 2029 or 2030.

Osaka is just a short flight from Seoul and other major Korean cities, with flight times less than two hours. Korean government officials say the $1.85 billion commitment to Kangwon Land is to diversify the resort and maintain its attractiveness as competition arises from Japan. The investment is the resort’s largest allocation since Kangwon Land opened in 1998.

Through this project, we plan to differentiate ourselves from domestic and foreign competitors located in large cities,” the government’s statement on the project read.

Kangwon Land’s current casino houses about 100 table games and 1,000 slot machines. The hotel has 700 guestrooms.

On weekends, it’s often difficult to find an open seat in front of a table game or slot. With junket groups in Macau no longer catering to VIP traffic in China and other Asian markets, including South Korea, Kangwon Land has become even busier in recent years.

The government said the $1.85 billion undertaking will take many years to complete. As construction gets underway and endures, a temporary expanded casino will operate to immediately afford more gamblers a seat.

China’s crackdown on VIP groups in Macau has resulted in gaming operators making considerable investments in other Asian markets, including in the Philippines. The South Korean government wants to make sure its Kangwon Land also remains a preeminent destination.

Crowding Competition

Japan isn’t the place presenting Kangwon Land with new competition. US-based Mohegan recently opened the first phase of Inspire at Incheon International, though the casino can only accommodate foreigners.

The South Korean government benefits greatly from gaming at Kangwon Land. The casino last year welcomed around 2.5 million visitors. The business delivered the Korean government about $260 million in net proceeds.

Kangwon Land’s expansion is being called the “K-HIT” project. The acronym stands for “Korea High Integrated Tourism.”

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