The first ever Cyprus Gaming Show (CGS) was a resounding success according to reports coming in from delegates and event organizers. The event took place on September 20 and 21, 2017, at the Hilton Hotel in Nicosia. The conference and exhibitions covered land-based as well as online gambling and focused on Cyprus, a potential regional gambling center.

Before The Republic of Cyprus Integrated Casino Resort (ICR) bill was signed into law and a license issued to a consortium that included Hard Rock International, Melco Resorts & Entertainment, and Phasouri Limited of Cyprus, no casinos were allowed in the island nation. Now, the largest integrated resort in Europe is being built in Limassol. Melco was given approval in early September to acquire Hard Rock’s shares, leaving Melco with a total stake of 70.74%.

CGS was the first gaming industry event to ever be held on the island, and it was attended by, among other notables, Andy Choy, president of Melco’s resorts and entertainment division.

Principal Consultant for 1710 GAMING, Christina Thakor-Rankin, chaired the event and she welcomed a host of speakers, representatives, and government officials. On the first day of the event representatives of the following agencies and organizations made presentations:

Invest Cyprus, Cyprus Investment Promotion Agency (CIPA),
Cyprus Chamber of Commerce and Industry,
Treasury of the Republic of Cyprus,
Cyprus National Gaming and Casino Supervision Commission,
National Betting Authority of Cyprus (NBA).

The main ICR panel discussion involving representatives of Melco saw Andy Choy field myriad questions including the impact the ICR will have on employment in the region. New industry sectors will likely be created locally to serve the facilities which are expected to bring in as much as €100m in tax revenue annually.

Robert Brassai of Kerzner International (Mazagan Beach Resort, Morocco – Atlantis, The Palm, Dubai) spoke of the operational issues in running a casino that could currently only be accomplished with foreign assistance. He spoke of gaming floor optimization, product mix, and several other details needed for a successful casino to operate. Andrew Cammegh of Cammegh Ltd spoke of the evolution of roulette machine specifications giving attendees a first-hand look into knowledge from the mind of the world’s premiere roulette maker.

And while some expertise must be imported for the ICR’s success, much of the talent must be grown at home, so The Training and Development Unit of the University of Nicosia had representatives on hand as well to learn all they could from the knowledge bank that was available at CGS.

While many local attendees expressed optimism about Cyprus being on its way to becoming a regional gaming hub for online and terrestrial casinos, some were concerned that gambling could become a threat. Currently, there are no legal casinos in Cyprus. Some operate in the Turkish north and a few illegal operations pop up now and then in the UN-controlled buffer zone between the Turkish-Cypriot northern region and a Greek-Cypriot southern region. Panels discussed the various regulatory bodies, current legislation, and legal framework. One panel was led by Graham Martin, Advisory Board Member to Eventus and Chairman of the Cardinal House International Group of London.

Tech took center stage at various times with virtual reality in casino gaming and cryptocurrencies in gaming being discussed. EU matters such as data protection and fair practices fell into regulatory discussions as did privatization of the National Lottery.

By the time the conference wrapped up, it was evident that not only are the local authorities providing support for responsible gaming practices, they are also creating and maintaining the infrastructure needed to see Cyprus rise to the next level on the world gambling stage. For many, the greatest take away was the willingness of such esteemed and respected gambling industry veterans to share their knowledge and know-how.

The event was so well attended that Managing Director of Eventus International, Yudi Soetjiptadi, has already begun imagining the 2018 event: “What a fantastic first-time experience for Eventus in Cyprus. Fantastic venue, beautiful country, and great people. The expertise and knowledge of our speakers, partners, and the attendees make this a must-do-again event. We are already planning our next offering and will be back in Cyprus next year. We thank our sponsors and exhibitors, our strategic partners Healys and BtoBet, and the support from the NBA and CIPA.”