Bid­ders to invest € 500 mln in gaming re­sort

Financial Mirror (Cyprus) - - FRONT PAGE -

At least 13 po­ten­tial casino op­er­a­tors have shown ini­tial in­ter­est for the is­land’s first in­te­grated gaming re­sort, with the dead­line for the first phase end­ing on Fri­day.

Gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials told a joint par­lia­men­tary ses­sion of the Fi­nance and Com­merce com­mit­tees that the bid­ders are wait­ing for the fi­nal bill on the op­er­a­tion of the casino re­sort to be sub­mit­ted to the House by the end of the month, after which a se­lec­tion process will see bid­ders sub­mit­ting their plans some time by the end of Fe­bru­ary or early March.

The in­vest­ment is es­ti­mated to cost about 500 mln euros and is ex­pected to at­tract about 500,000 to 1 mln tourists a year.

The win­ning op­er­a­tor will foot the cost to de­velop the re­sort that will in­clude a 5-star ho­tel with at least 500 rooms, but also 100 gaming ta­bles and at least 1,000 gaming ma­chines, in ad­di­tion to “off site” li­censes in at least four other satel­lite premises to op­er­ate up to 50 gaming ma­chines each in other towns or re­sorts.

Hote­liers in all towns are vy­ing for the sin­gle li­cense that will have mul­ti­ple ben­e­fits for the leisure in­dus­try, which is why many have joined ven­tures with in­ter­na­tional casino op­er­a­tors.

The gov­ern­ment is ex­pected to reap 10 mln euros from li­cens­ing in the first four years and 20 mln in the next four years. It will also charge a 15% gaming tax on all in­come re­ported by the op­er­a­tor.

The draft bill that will reg­u­late the es­tab­lish­ment, op­er­a­tion, func­tion, con­trol and su­per­vi­sion of a casino re­sort was sent to par­lia­ment just be­fore Christ­mas, after it was ap­proved by the Coun­cil of Min­is­ters in early De­cem­ber.

The Min­istry of En­ergy, Com­merce, In­dus­try and Tourism has in­vited in­ter­ested par­ties to pro­vide com­ments re­lat­ing to the draft reg­u­la­tions, which have been posted on the Min­istry’s web­site, while com­ments can be sent by email to casi­nore­ un­til Jan­uary 16.

The draft bill de­ter­mines a sin­gle casi­nore­sort op­er­a­tor, who may also is­sue sub­li­censes to smaller gaming op­er­a­tors in other lo­ca­tions.

This has sent all the towns’ tourism bod­ies and ho­tel op­er­a­tors into a frenzy to lure the op­er­a­tor, with one ar­gu­ment say­ing the lo­ca­tion should be a sea­side town, while oth­ers pre­fer the cap­i­tal or even the moun­tain­ous re­gions that need a tourism boost.

The draft bill also lays down the ground rules for gaming, bet­ting amounts to be al­lowed and screen­ing of lo­cals to pre­vent is­sues of ad­dic­tion, as well as age lim­its and ac­cess.

The re­sort will op­er­ate 24 hours a day, seven days a week and smoking will be al­lowed on the gaming floor.

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