The Republic of Cyprus has officially awarded its lone casino license to the joint venture of Melco International Development and Hard Rock International.
On Friday, the Ministry of Energy, Commerce, Industry and Tourism announced that the Melco-Hard Rock tandem’s bid had been found compliant with the terms of the casino license tender. The winners have therefore been officially invited to apply for a permit to put shovels to dirt.
The Cypriot government approved legislation in July 2015 authorizing the development of a single resort casino. By February 2016, the government had narrowed the field of applicants down to three: Melco-Hard Rock, Cambodia’s NagaCorp and the Philippines’ Bloomberry Resorts.
But Bloomberry dropped out of the race in September without explanation, and NagaCorp followed suit one week later, reportedly due to difficulties in reaching a deal with the owners of the land on which NagaCorp wished to build.
That left just Melco-Hard Rock, meaning Friday’s announcement was more or less a fait accompli, unless the government was willing to start the whole tender process from scratch.
Melco-Hard Rock have teamed with local agricultural concern CNS Group (Phassouri), which owns property near the island’s second largest city Limassol, which is already a major tourist draw.
The Ministry’s Friday statement said Melco-Hard Rock’s building plans need to undergo a due diligence check, after which the necessary permit will be issued. Assuming there are no hiccups, construction could get underway as early as Q1 2017.
Melco-Hard Rock’s casino license will be valid for a 30-year period, with exclusivity guaranteed for half that span. The casino is required to offer at least 100 gaming tables and 1k slots, while its adjoining hotel must offer at least 500 rooms.
The casino legislation allowed the licensee the option of launching a smaller satellite facility as well as three slots-only venues in other locations while the main resort is under construction. Melco-Hard Rock have yet to comment on their short-term plans.
Melco International is led by Lawrence Ho, who is also CEO of casino operator Melco Crown Entertainment, which operates in Macau and Manila. Ho also controls Summit Ascent Holdings, the majority owner of the Tigre de Cristal casino in Russia’s Primorye region. Hard Rock International is controlled by Florida’s Seminole Tribe, and has an interest in 11 casinos around the globe.