The recent meeting of U.S. President Donald Trump with North Korea’s authoritarian leader Kim Jong Un has given ideas to people in the casino business. Speaking to reporters, Mr Trump hinted at the real estate prospects of possible casino facilities in North Korea. Now, someone else has found the idea freshly tantalizing.
Recently, Sheldon Adelson, a nabob with a flair for building and developing casinos and a close aid of Mr Trump, suggested that North Korea stands to benefit from the development of real estate properties and opening casinos. Mr Adelson spoke at a charity event in Jerusalem, putting forth his hopes that under the Trump administration, the hatchet between the North and the South could be finally buried and economic upswing may replace it.
No Stranger to the Business Itself
Mr Adelson’s interest in the casino business is definitely not a wanton ambition. As the CEO of Las Vegas Sands, he has both the capital and the experience to actually make a difference and spearhead projects.
Meanwhile, during his visit to Singapore, Mr Kim visited the Marina Bay Sands, a hotel and casino owned by Mr Adelson. Despite the stringent sanctions visited upon North Korea, its tourism industry is still intact, although fewer people want to visit a country that’s openly threatening nuclear war.
Even then, tourism remains one of the pillars of the economy and the backbone of the regime from collapsing, that and the nuclear arsenal of course.
Wonsan-Kalma is Developing
North Korea is pushing ahead with plans to turn the coastal area of Wonsan-Kalma into a suitable tourist zone by April 2019 and hopefully draw out larger crowds, which will be far from the abundant poverty in which regular North Koreans live on an everyday basis.
Of course, the fate of tourism is far from sealed. After US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited North Korea, Mr Kim accused the US into trying to strongarm his regime into dropping his nukes, putting another dent in the stability of the region, let alone the developing of casino properties.
Despite the numerous obstacles, Mr Adelson still seems upbeat about the potential development of the country. Its geographical location put it halfway across South Korea and China, which could serve as a great getaway for Chinese who are eager to play casino games, as opposed to running under-the-table schemes instead.
Fleshing out any casino projects, however, will require great cooperation between all parties involved. Mr Kim’s tantrum-prone behavior doesn’t make it easy for anyone to operate in safety.
It’s not only the legal and international hurdles that seem to stop the project from advancement, either. The majority of potential customers of any casino resort in North Korea will need guarantees that they can play in safety. Given the North’s record of incarcerating foreigners is definitely not a point in its favor.
Any potential development projects will have to undergo a lot of curating, but for the time being, the most important step to that end is to achieve peace talks, and that’s unlikely.