Paradise seeks Chinese punters with $1.7 bln Korea resort


* Paradise Co teams up with Sega Sammy for $1.7 bln SouthKorea casino resort

* Resort will be one of biggest in South Korea

* South Korea attracting interest of major casino operators

* Chinese tourist numbers on the rise; casino operatorsattract punters

HONG KONG/SEOUL, Oct 22 (Reuters) - One of South Korea'sbiggest gaming firms Paradise Co Ltd is building a$1.7 billion casino resort in the coastal city of Incheon tolure the rising number of Chinese gamblers flocking to thecountry.

Paradise, one of two companies that dominate Korea's foreigner-only casino market, said on Tuesday it was teaming upwith Japanese gaming firm Sega Sammy Holdings Inc forthe project, which is scheduled to be completed in 2017 and willbe located minutes away from Seoul's international airport.

The resort would be one of the biggest in South Korea, whichis attracting the attention of major casino operators like LasVegas Sands Corp and Caesars Entertainment Corp at a time when several other Asian nations are betting oncasinos to boost the number of wealthy Japanese and Chinesevisitors as well as their economies.

The new Incheon resort, dubbed Paradise City, expects toattract 160,000 visitors a day, of which two-thirds are likelyto be Chinese, the head of the project, Choi Jong-hwan, said ina statement.

Paradise shares closed up 3.6 percent in Seoul compared to a3.1 percent gain in the Korea Composite Stock Price Index(KOSPI).

Last week, Sands CEO Sheldon Alderson said his company waslooking into opportunities in South Korea.

Japan's Universal Entertainment Corporation and aconsortium of Caesars and Lippo Ltd had also appliedfor licences to build casinos in Incheon, but the governmentrejected their bids in June without giving areason.

South Korea allows its citizens to gamble at only one of the16 or so casinos operating in the country.

Paradise and local competitor Grand Korea Leisure are the biggest players in the foreigner-onlydomestic casino market and both firms target Chinesehigh-rollers from abroad. Paradise also collaborates with Macaujunket operator Suncity to attract punters.

The number of Chinese tourists to South Korea jumped nearly50 percent year-on-year in the first nine months of 2013, theofficial Yonhap news agency said on Tuesday.

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