A slump in profits among Asian gambling operators could benefit the Mediterranean island of Cyprus’ attempts to establish its first casino resort as Macau gaming operator Melco Crown Entertainment Ltd. and others vie for the gaming concession, according to the Cyprus Weekly.
An unidentified source was cited by the news outlet as saying, “Macao-based Hard Rock-Melco Crown Entertainment and the Filipino company Bloomberry Resorts are serious contenders for the Cypriot comprehensive casino resort.”
With the decrease in demand in China felt by Asian operators due to currency fluctuations, slow economic growth and a prolonged anti-corruption campaign, both Bloomberry and Melco’s 2015 earnings fell. This wouldn’t be CEO and chairman of Melco International Lawrence Ho’s first gaming business venture outside the Special Administrative Region following a regional downturn for gaming. Ho’s Melco Crown Entertainment launched City of Dreams Manila in the Philippines in February. In October, via Summit Ascent, also controlled by Ho, Tigre de Cristal casino near Vladivostok, Russia was opened. Adding to the list is Ho’s Melco International Development, which is in the process of finalizing a plan to operate a casino in Barcelona, Spain. However, Melco Crown and Bloomberry aren’t alone in their bid for the Cypriot casino, other Asian gaming operators including Cambodian gaming operator NagaCorp has, according to the news outlet, submitted a full proposal to Cypriot authorities. Although the government hasn’t released a list of names, various local insider sources have mentioned others vying for the Cypriot gaming license include Russian Absolute and the French consortium of Bouygues, Accor Hoer and Barrier.
The bill of Operations and Casino Control Law was passed by the legislative unit in the Republic of Cyprus in July, 2015. The law allows for the licensing of an integrated resort, including casino and leisure facilities, for a period of 30 years, as well as the regulation of establishing the country’s own regulator. Members of parliament were asked by the country’s General Director of the Ministry of Commerce, Stelios Himonas, to make the necessary approvals for Cyprus’ first casino resort by next month so that preparations could be made for the second phase which eliminates five of the eight contenders. According to estimates from The Ministry of Commerce, Tourism and Industry, the casino resort is expected to add 500,000 tourists to the island’s current 2.4 million annual visitors, in addition to creating hundreds of job opportunities.
Currently there are no legal casinos in the Greek supported southern Republic of Cyprus. A handful of gray-market or illegal casinos in the United Nations controlled Blue Zone buffer area are in operation, as well as several casinos in the Turkish north.