Mohegan Gaming and Entertainment proudly proclaims that it’s striving to embark upon unique growth, done so through the offering of one-of-a-kind entertainment.
The company began in Connecticut with its now flagship Mohegan Sun property 23 years ago, and has since expanded into a variety of US jurisdictions, firstly to Pennsylvania with Mohegan Sun Pocono, before moving onto Atlantic City and Resorts, with its most recent step within the nation seeing the grand opening of Washington State’s Ilani Casino Resort last year.
This is not all though, MGE has also spread its wings and taken flight to Asia, and South Korea more specifically, where work continues on Project Inspire, which the company states it to be “the first in the world with its own private air terminal”.
“Inspire is perfectly positioned to spark Incheon’s transformation”
Mario Kontomerkos, president and chief executive officer of MGE, has been speaking to CasinoBeats addressing Project Inspire, a Paramount link-up and the importance of sports wagering within US properties.
CasinoBeats: Project Inspire marks MGE’s first foray outside of the United States, what was it about South Korea that appealed? And the city of Incheon in-particular?
Mario Kontomerkos: With the perfect combination of an affluent, sophisticated, mobile demographic of 700 million within located within a 2.5 hour flight of Seoul, and world class transportation infrastructure already in place via the Incheon International Airport, one of the busiest airports in the world welcoming more than 60 million passengers annually, Inspire is perfectly positioned to spark Incheon’s transformation into the industry’s next major entertainment hub. The first phase of Inspire is expected to open in 2021/2022, with multiple phases planned beyond.
CB: MGE has stated its belief that Asia is “the world’s fastest-growing major gaming and entertainment market,” how do you ensure that your project is one of the major draws? Especially with plans afoot in Japan to significantly drive its tourism numbers through the installation of integrated resorts?
MK: Inspire will be the industry’s first true integrated entertainment resort (IER) featuring over 1,200 five-star guest rooms, over 63,000-square-meters of dining, retail and entertainment options, a 15,000-seat Arena, a foreigner-only casino, a climate-controlled indoor pool and water park, 19,000-square-meters of conference and convention space, and a global studio IP-themed park.
“Together with Paramount, Inspire will create a new class of destination resort, the IER”
This is a combination of seamlessly integrated attractions that just doesn’t exist in the market today, even when considering the resorts already operating in Southern Asia. The casino business is not the core of the Inspire project; the non-casino business will be a key factor in the development, as today’s consumers are pursuing a comprehensive entertainment experience that encompasses not only casino activities, but also sports, concerts, dining and opportunities to meet and gather with family, a large group of colleagues or friends. The goal of Inspire is to create an entertainment hub with the best, most captivating experiences in the world.
CB: How important was it to secure Paramount Pictures a partner and what benefits do you anticipate as a result? How much of a draw is a branded theme park at the facility expected to be?
MK: South Koreans are one of the highest, if not the highest, consumers of themed entertainment in the world. Our partnership with Paramount Pictures Corporation was a strategic move to capitalise on this trend, by seamlessly incorporating a world-renowned branded theme park into northeast Asia’s largest integrated entertainment resort development, adjacent to the Incheon International Airport.
Together with Paramount, Inspire will create a new class of destination resort, the “IER,” and will generate tens of millions of new visitors, both local and foreign, to support South Korea’s budding travel, tourism and economic development goals.
“There are plenty of examples where first mover does or does not constitute long term sustainable advantage”
CB: Looking back at MGE’s home market, how integral do you anticipate sports betting is to become across your US properties?
MK: MGE’S properties in the United States are unlike most, offering immersive entertainment experiences like few others. Therefore offering an additional product as exciting as sport betting is a natural progression, and will surely enhance the product we already offer.
CB: How important do you consider it to be to not be too slow out of the blocks in jurisdictions you operate and enjoy a legalized, regulated sports betting scene? And be prepared to encapsulate the offering as more states begin to open up?
MK: There are plenty of examples where first mover does or does not constitute long term sustainable advantage. We win because we are firmly resolute in our commitment to designing and developing the highest quality, most authentic, most convenient guest experience.
We don’t rush to the market just to say we are there first. If we can deliver the true Mohegan experience and also be first, all the better, but speed isn’t the only consideration.