Six casino operators have formally thrown their hat into the ring for the lone casino license in the Greek-controlled southern half of Cyprus.
Late last month, Cyprus officially opened the tender for its lone casino license, following Parliament’s overdue passage in July of the necessary casino legislation. On Sunday, Cyprus Weekly reported that six operators had anted up the required €10k fee to be considered for the gig.
The eager six are an international mix including Malaysia’s Genting, America’s Hard Rock International, South Africa’s Sun International, Cambodia’s NagaCorp and French conglomerate Bouygues. The latter company is known more for online gambling than the brick-and-mortar variety, but has reportedly entered into a partnership with a local Cypriot firm.
The government expects more applicants to come forward, and ultimately hopes to attract up to 15 expressions of interest before the tender closes on December 18. In January, the government claimed 13 operators had expressed interest in acquiring the license, so these other seven have either gotten cold feet or are still crafting ways to make their bid stand out from the pack. (Helpful hint: fill the envelope with glitter. Ta-DAAA!)
The winning bidder will earn the right to build one major casino pretty much wherever it wants, assuming it can strike a deal with the landowner. The licensee will also be allowed to construct four satellite gaming halls, only one of which will be allowed to host a small number of gaming tables, while the rest will be limited to electronic gaming machines.
The lucky licensee will be notified sometime in 2016, after which the operator will have two years in which to construct the main facility. However, the licensee will have the option of opening a temporary facility in order to generate revenue until the main facility is ready to go.
Last month, the Cyprus Tourism Organization (CTO) said it expects the new casino will attract an additional 500k tourists per year to the Greek half of the island. The UK is the primary source of the 2.4m tourists who visited Cyprus in 014, followed by Russia, Greece, Sweden, Germany and Israel.
Given the Chinese propensity for gambling, the CTO is pushing Cyprus’ Foreign Ministry to make it easier for Chinese tourists to travel to the island. Once the visa issue is resolved, the CTO hopes to attract 400k Chinese tourists per year.