In preparation for what promises to be a very spirited request for proposal (RFP) process, Korea’s Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism has selected nine sites throughout the country for potential development of two foreigner-only integrated gaming resorts.

According to an industry update from Union Gaming Securities Asia, these locations include Incheon, home to six of the potential IR sites, Busan, and the provinces of Gyeongnam and Jeonnam. A previous, non-binding RFC attracted 34 separate proposals for 10 different locations throughout Korea.

Jeju Island, a self-governing province, is also undergoing a separate gaming licensing process that could lead to the development of three integrated gaming resorts.

The official RFP process for the Korean mainland will be overseen by the Ministry for Culture, Sports and Tourism, with proposal due by the end of November. The review process will commence in December, with the winning companies expected to have their projects completed within four years of approval.

These projects must meet the following criteria to be considered for an IR license:

• A minimum investment of $850 million;

• A minimum for foreign investment component of $500million;

• A casino floor 5 percent or less of total GFA;

• At least 1,000 5-star hotel rooms;

• 20,000 square meters of retail space;

• MICE facilities investment of at least $17million; and

• Themed attraction investment of at least $60 million.

These proposals must also have at least two of the following features: culture facilities; entertainment facilities; leisure/sports facilities; health/medical facilities; or food and beverage options.

“We believe these will likely be the final IR licenses to be awarded for the foreseeable future in Korea (outside of Jeju),” wrote Grant Govertsen, an analyst for Union Gaming, in the industry update. “Given our view that Incheon is the preferred national IR area, we would expect both new IRs to be issued for this area. This in turn would bring the total number of IRs to four in Incheon, which includes two IRs already under construction (Paradise/SegaSammy and Caesars/Lippo).”