South Korea casino aims to score with soccer star

koreaReuters – South Korean casino operator Paradise Co has hired Jose Mourinho, the outspoken manager of English football giants Chelsea, as the face of its new advertising campaign to lure punters from China, where the sport is increasingly popular.

Paradise is teaming up with Japan’s Sega Sammy Holdings Inc to build a $1.7 billion casino resort in the coastal city of Incheon, near the country’s main international airport, with construction to be completed in 2017.

It faces steep competition from operators like Genting Singapore PLC and Caesars Entertainment Corp, which are moving to build their own tourist-focused resorts in South Korea, where all but one of the existing 17 casinos are open only to foreigners.

Paradise hopes Mourinho, a football manager with a string of accomplishments that includes the UEFA Champions League titles in 2004 and 2010, will now kick goals for the casino and win over Chinese customers. He replaces Hollywood superstar Robert De Niro as Paradise’s brand ambassador.

It expects the Incheon resort to attract 160,000 visitors a day, of which two-thirds are likely to be Chinese.

The number of Chinese tourists to South Korea surged 52.5 percent to 4.3 million last year, according to the Korea Tourism Organization.

FULL STORY

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