The Mediterranean island country of Cyprus is starting to return to normal. Gambling facilities began to reopen last month after being forced to take a break due to the coronavirus, and four more venues have now been added to the mix. Over the weekend, Melco Resorts, which has a contingent of gambling properties in Cyprus through its ICR Cyprus arm, flipped on the lights at four of the five casinos it controls in the country. It’s welcome news for the company, which took a huge financial hit by the three-month gaming shutdown on the island.
Melco controls 75% of ICR Cyprus, while the other 25% is held by Cyprus Phassouri Ltd. The local casino scene came to an abrupt halt because of COVID-19 on March 17, but has now been able to start the recovery process. C2 Ayia Napa, C2 Nicosia, C2 Paphos (which opened only three weeks before the lockdown) and C2 Limassol, a temporary casino put up ahead of the City of Dreams Mediterranean, are back in business. C2 Larnaca, the fifth property, is currently being moved from its former home at the Larnaca International Airport to a new location, and will open once the transition is complete. Employees of that facility have been temporarily reassigned to other venues until everything is in place.
In a statement about the reopenings, VP, Gaming Operations of Cyprus Casinos Devi Kerr explained, “The health and safety of guests and colleagues are our top priority. C2 has prepared a comprehensive series of hygiene measures to safeguard the health and comfort of guests and colleagues throughout the casinos. It is our belief that the casinos’ reopening will not only contribute to strengthening the tourism industry, but also the recovery of the local economy.”
Among the policies implemented, Melco patrons will find that gaming tables will have a maximum of three guests each. Additionally, every second slot machine will remain dark, and smoking will be banned at all gaming tables and slot machines. Smokers, however, will be able to puff away in designated smoking areas.
It was previously thought that Melco would have to wait until July to get its Cyprus gambling operations moving again. That was due to government-ordered shutdowns and planned phases to reintroduce commercial activity, but things have recovered quicker than originally anticipated. This is great news for Melco, which needs all the gambling revenue it can muster to overcome massive losses it has seen recently. The possibility of reopening its venues was announced by Melco late last week and coincide with the re-emergence of international flights to the country, being integrated into the schedule between June 9 and June 20.