Inconsistencies shown in state’s handling of casino hotel investment
A LUXURY new Karaoğlanoğlu hotel has highlighted inconsistencies in the state’s handling of casino hotel investment as it prepares to launch tomorrow with a 5,000m2 casino for which it has not yet received a licence.
The casino features online as one of the attractions at the Kaya Palazzo Hotel, but Finance Ministry State Properties and Materials Department head Eralp Münür Pınar said: “The casino may not open until a licence is obtained. A pre-permit was issued [for the hotel] which expired after three years and a new pre-permit has been issued.” Licensing requires Cabinet approval. Thirty-one casinos currently operate in North Cyprus — 20 in the Girne area and one more, Zeus, currently undergoing a rebuild; four in Lefkoşa, three in Gazimağusa, one in İskele and two in Bafra, one of which is the Kaya Artemis Hotel Casino Resort also owned by the Kaya Group.
Kaya Palazzo Hotel manager Hakan Demirçeken said on Thursday: “We will open the hotel with a soft launch on April 15 but I cannot comment on the casino. The casino manager will call back.” No reply was received by yesterday, however.
The 35,000m2 seaside luxury Kaya Palazzo has 261 suites and rooms and promises guests a chocolate-and-strawberries welcome and a one-off complimentary champagne breakfast and à la carte dinner during their stay. Its website features the 5,000m2 casino with 320 slot machines and 39 live gaming tables, a VIP Loca specially designed separate gaming salon, smart card system and all machines connected to a big win jackpot system. Gaming machines require an import permit and were brought in under the name of the Kaya Artemis.
Other attractions include a choice of three à la carte restaurants, Sky Bar Beirut nightclub and a luxury 2,000m2 spa and wellness centre.
The hotel project on the site of the former Cooperative Bank-owned Zeyko Olive Oil Factory hit local resistance in 2016 sparking a court case and eventual government U-turn on increasing Girne Decree planning limits in the area from four to seven storeys.
Construction was then stalled by a Girne Municipality court order and inspectors removed sixth floor formwork before a compromise solution was reached. The Girne Decree was replaced in January by a longawaited Zoning and Construction Plan.
Kaya Holdings founder and head of the board of directors Burhanettin Kaya said at the time that promises had been made by the government since 2014, adding: “Three governments later no progress has been made. Why would I jeopardise a $60 million project?”
Finance Minister Serdar Denktaş was reported this week as suggesting that Kaya Holdings purchase an existing casino licence from another operator who had failed to complete their own project.
A quota set by government for the number of casino licences has been filled.
Mr Denktaş was abroad and unavailable for comment this week and a spokesman for the Casino Operators’ Union said: “Casinos are licensed by government and it is not our place to comment.”