Granting a casino license in the Republic of Cyprus was not permitted until after July 21, 2015, when the Parliament enacted a Law to regulate all matters needed in order to operate and regulate casinos. Along with that, the Republic Of Cyprus Casino Gaming Commission (CGC) was established. All of this has been the background for the current bidding for building and operating a casino in Cyprus, regardless of the nationality of the candidate owner.
Modern casinos are an attractive investment. Not only are they attractive because of the entertainment that comes from gambling, but also for the profits it gives to the owner. This is why the location of a casino is of big interest, and the final contenders for the Integrated Casino Resort license to be awarded in Cyprus have set their eyes on Larnaca and Limassol.
In the initial bid, Melco/Hard Rock Resort Cyprus Consortium’s has said that their preferred site is Limassol and Larnaca is NagaCorp Ltds choice as the best location for the proposed casino. As for Bloomberry Resorts Corporation, no location has been specified. However, last year a local source stated that Bloomberry has considered Paphos as the location for their casino. In just a few months we will know for sure.
Although the proposals must be comprehensive, the contenders do not necessarily have to mention the possible location of the casino, as told by a Commerce Ministry official. For the first round, an area does not have to be specified and the companies could change their choice now in order to have leverage over the price of the land. The same official expressed that “Location is important for the state only if it adds value to tourism and helps expand the tourism period. Investment on land does not add value to what we regard as foreign investment.” The money expected to be invested is not little. The Cypriot government has made an estimate of about € 500 million for the casino to be built and operating. No doubt the revenues expected are worth the investment.
Although the amenities and gaming configurations are to be determined by the investors, there are some minimum requirements to be met. Among them are 500 luxury hotel rooms, 1,000 gaming machines and 100 gaming tables. After being awarded the sole gaming license in September, the winner is expected to open the resort within 3 years, by 2019.
The description of licensing scope of the Republic of Cyprus Integrated Casino Resort Law, issued by the Ministry of Energy, Commerce, Industry and Tourism of the Republic of Cyprus states that “A single ICR will be licensed and the operator will be given 15-year exclusivity period commencing from the data of the grant o the license, during which the Government shall not grant another casino license in the Republic of Cyprus (Law, Section 15(1))” and the term of the license will be 30 years with the possibility to renew after year 12. With such conditions, any one would be extremely happy to be awarded the license and would do their best obtain it.
An interesting point to thighlight, which is written in the aforementioned Law, is that even though a selected candidate has been approved, it will be subjected to ratification of the Council of Ministers and from here things can take a different course. Such Council may reject the selected candidate if, upon reception of new information, the candidate is found to be unsuitable on public interest or national security grounds. Besides that, the Steering Committee, before approving a person to hold an ICR license, has to be satisfied with the applicant, its management and associates. Then, winning the bidding does not necessarily guarantee being granted the license. This is a point that the three final contenders will have to keep in mind to make sure they can fully make people involved in the granting process happy.
Among the benefits of the presence of a casino is the attraction of tourists. According to the Cyprus Tourism Organization (CTO), “more than two million visitors [are welcomed] from around the World to Cyprus”. The CTO add that tourism supports tens of thousands of jobs in Cyprus. Then, the building and operation of a casino will increase the number of yearly tourists to Cyprus and will create more job opportunities.