The three-way race to snag the lone Cyprus casino license may have narrowed after two applicants reportedly failed to secure the necessary land deals.
In June, the tandem of the US-based Hard Rock International and Lawrence Ho’s Melco International Development formally protested a decision to grant the other two bidders – Cambodia’s NagaCorp and the Philippines’ Bloomberry Resorts – a three-month extension on submitting final bids for a casino on the Greek half of Cyprus.
On Monday, Cyprus media quoted an anonymous official in the Ministry of Commerce saying the Bloomberry and NagaCorp bids had so far failed to secure land deals with property owners at terms the projects deemed within their budgets.
Bloomberry was said to be losing interest in building a Cyprus casino based on the exorbitant prices sought by property owners who control the site on which the company wishes to plant its flag. NagaCorp was said to be still locked in negotiations with the owners of its preferred site.
Bloomberry was previously tipped as leaning toward building in the Paphos area while NagaCorp was said to be eyeing a Lamarca property. The two bidders’ difficulty in reaching accord with landowners appears to bolster suspicion of opportunistic price gouging, given the dire state of the island’s economy.
The Hard Rock-Melco tandem is reportedly eyeing the Limassol area for its bid. The pair has teamed with Cypriot agricultural firm Phassouri, which owns orchards in the Limassol area.
The three-month extension granted to the bidders this summer expires on Oct. 5 and local media suggested the government wasn’t keen on pushing that revised deadline back any further. The government has previously stated its intention to award the lone casino license before the end of the year.