Construction of its $290 million Cape Verde Casino Resort has officially begun for Macau-based casino and hotel operator Macau Legend Development Limited.

The groundbreaking ceremony on the islet of Sanat Maria on Monday was attended by gaming tycoon and Macau Legend CEO David Chow Kam Fai, along with José Maria Neves, Cape Verde’s Prime Minister. According to Teledifusao de Macau (TDM), in his speech, Chow hailed the project a landmark in the tourism industry of the archipelago and in the cooperation with China and Macau.

During the announcement, Chow said that the investment by the company is the first step of its growth in the international market to offset revenue losses in Macau due to the efforts of the Chinese government to curb illegal foreign-exchange transactions, among other illegal activities.

The project was described by Neves as another pillar for the transformation and development of the island country in Africa. He added that tourism to the county will increase to approximately 2 million from the current 600,000 over the next few years, due to the lure of the project. The government of Cape Verde has been working to increase tourist activity to the area. In 2014, the casinos and resorts already established provided a 40% increase in Gross Domestic Product.

The terms of the agreement with the Cape Verde government include a land concession of 75 years in length and a 25-year gaming license to be granted to the Macau Legend subsidiary CV Entertainment Co. The first 15 years will be exclusive to casinos on Santiago Island. In addition, for 10 years CV will have nationwide operation exclusivity over online gaming and sports betting (land-based and online), according to local sources.

The Cape Verde government has been paid a one-time premium of approximately HK$10.1 million by CV Entertainment for the gaming license. A gaming tax of 10 percent of gross gaming revenue will be paid by Macau Legend, but a 25 percent deduction of gaming tax for VIP patrons will be allowed during the first five years of operation. Also, for the first 10 years Macau Legend will be exempt from income tax.

The casino resort will be located on a 1.3 million square foot plot on Santiago Island in Praia and will feature office buildings, a marina, museum and a convention center. It is anticipated that the construction will take three years. Construction of Chows casino resort was previously rejected due to the environmental impact; however, a new proposal was submitted.

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