A failed bidder for a casino license in the Greek half of Cyprus has accused government officials of botching the application process.
On Thursday, Cypriot politicians approved new casino regulations, clearing the way for the government to begin vetting the three shortlisted companies vying for the lone license in the Greek-controlled southern half of the island nation.
The Cyprus-Mail revealed further details on each shortlisted operator’s preferred site for building its casino. The Hard Rock/Melco International Development tandem is reportedly eyeing Limassol, while Bloomberry Resorts is looking at Paphos and Nagacorp prefers a Lamarca address.
Local newspaper Haravgi, which is closely aligned with opposition party AKEL, reported that one of the three bidders had “backing from high up in the government,” broadly hinting that the Hard Rock/Melco bid had the inside track, thanks to President Nicos Anastasiades calling Limassol home.
A fix of an altogether different sort is being alleged by the Goldenlady Consortium, whose casino application failed to make the cut. In a letter to senior government officials and other party leaders, the consortium claimed that the leaking of the three shortlisted names prior to any official announcement “casts a shadow on the credibility of the process.”
The consortium – whose members reportedly include French operator Partouche, the Trump Organization and Navegante Gaming & Hospitality – wants the government to explain why the Goldenlady bid failed to make the cut, despite having proposed to spend €1.15b on its resort, three to four times the investments promised by the shortlisted bidders.
The consortium went on to rubbish reports that it lacked the backing to follow through on its grandiose proposal, claiming that it had submitted letters of commitment totaling €425m and was the only bidder to provide evidence of its financial wherewithal.
The government is expected to officially announce the three shortlisted applicants as early as Friday and the hope is that the license will be awarded by September. However, this timeline could be pushed back if opposition politicians call for an official investigation of the Goldenlady Consotirum allegations.