Eight companies have formally expressed their interest in bidding for the lone casino license up for grabs in the Greek-controlled southern half of Cyprus.
Friday marked the end of the three-month window for submitting an expression of interest in the casino license. The Cypriot Commerce, Industry, Energy and Tourism Ministry issued a statement confirming having received eight bids, three of which will be shortlisted as the competition progresses.
The Ministry said the names of the prospective bidders will remain a secret, at least for the time being, but the Cypriot media has not been shy about sharing names believed to have made the cut.
Last week, In-Cyprus.com identified five bidders: the US of A’s Hard Rock international; Cambodia’s NagaCorp, the Philippines’ Bloomberry Resorts Corp; a French consortium consisting of Bouygues Batiment International, Accord Hotels and casino operator Barriere, which reportedly has a local partner lined up; and a Russian conglomerate that includes banking and property firm Absolut.
The elite eight likely don’t include Malaysia’s Genting or South Africa’s Sun International, both of which reportedly withdrew their bids late in the game. A year ago, Caesars Entertainment had expressed its interest in a Cyprus casino but its ongoing bankruptcy debacle may have convinced its owners that their attention was probably best focused closer to home.
The eight bidders will be trimmed down to three within 45 days, after which the Cypriot government will request detailed proposals on the trio’s respective projects. The government hopes to award the license in 2016, after which the winner will have two year in which to transform their blueprints into reality.
Cyprus passed casino legislation this summer following a protracted debate. The legislation calls for a facility boasting a minimum of 100 gaming tables and 1k electronic gaming machines. The venue can be built wherever the operator is able to strike a deal, provided it’s on private land.