On 26th of June, 2017 Cyprus signed a contract for the construction of the first ever integrated casino resort in the country. According to officials, the casino is expected to be the biggest in the whole of Europe.
The Cyprus government through the National gaming authority supported proposals from a consortium made up of Melco International Development Ltd, Seminole HR Holdings LLC (Melco & Hard Rock), and CNS Group (Cyprus Phassouri Zakaki Ltd) to build the integrated casino resort in Limassol.
During the signing of the contract at the Filoxenia Conference Centre in Nicosia, the Cyprus’ Energy, Commerce, Industry and Tourism Minister Yiorgos Lakkotrypis reported that the casino resort will cost 500 million Euros to build and will attract around 300,000 tourists a year. He further said that more than 4,000 jobs will be created upon completion of the project.
The officials said that the Limassol complex will be built in Limassol , and will include four smaller casinos across in several cities in Cyprus.
The proposed casino resort will include 136 gaming tables and 1,200 gambling machines, while the adjoining luxury hotel will have a 500-room, a 4,000 square metre health spa, and a 1, 500 -seat conference hall.
The Cyprus’ Energy, Commerce, Industry and Tourism Minister expressed confidence that the mega project will enrich the country’s tourism sector by combating seasonality.
According to the license terms, an integrated casino resort is allowed to operate in Cyprus for a period of 30 years, with monopoly status during the first 15 years. In his address during the signing of the contract, Harris Georgiades, Cyprus’ finance minister said the casinos are expected to generate around 100 million Euros every year in taxes.
The satellite casino in Nicosia is expected to be fully functional this year, and an interim casino will be set up in Limassol. The construction of the resort will be completed by the end of 2019 or early 2020.
Lakkotrypis added that this project will be marked as the greatest ever witnessed in the history of the country due to its big size and significance in economic development. Besides, he expressed the need for the government to monitor the operations of the casino to ensure vulnerable groups are not exploited or negatively influenced.
Previously, the Cyprus government under Demetris Christofias did not legalize the operation of casinos citing social effects but as a result of financial difficulties in 2013, the current government established legalization of casinos as a way of attracting investment. The government has set the age of gambling at 21 years and above.
Lakkotrypis said that the signing of the contract aimed at promoting foreign tourism, increase average spending per capita, as well as combat seasonality that is rampant in the Cypriot tourism industry. The minister further said that the signing of the contract was meant to achieve specific goals which include; job creation, income generation through taxes, attracting foreign investors and supporting sectors affiliated to the casino.
The National Gaming Authority, which is composed of six members is mandated to oversee the operations of the casino. The authority, headed by Christos Mavrellis was created five months ago with the responsibility of ensuring the casino does not engage in any acts of exploitation or criminality.
Also, the body is mandated to ensure gaming in the casino is done with utmost honesty, to ensure compliance with the terms of the licence, and establish if the casino has any detrimental effects on social values.
Mavrellis asserted the authority’s commitment to carry out its duties and responsibilities diligently with the aim of making the landmark project a huge success.