Casino investor Melco International Development Ltd announced that a consortium of which it is part has formally been awarded the licence to develop “the first and only” casino resort in the Republic of Cyprus. The firm said the agreement with the local government was signed on Monday.
Melco International additionally announced that it has also entered into an agreement to acquire HR Cyprus Investor LLC’s entire interest in the Cyprus project. HR Cyprus is owned by Hard Rock International Inc. The value of the deal was not disclosed and completion is subject to approval by the Cyprus government.
The winning consortium involved Melco International, led by casino entrepreneur Lawrence Ho Yau Lung, alongside Hard Rock International and local conglomerate Cyprus Phasouri (Zakaki) Ltd.
Melco International currently holds 35.37 percent of the company formed to bid for the casino licence in Cyprus. Via the acquisition of HR Cyprus’s stake, the firm intends to increase its shareholding to 70.74 percent.
Cyprus Phasouri will hold the remaining 29.26 percent interest in the company developing the casino resort in the Mediterranean nation, said Melco International.
Government officials in Cyprus have been quoted saying that the scheme will include Europe’s biggest casino.
“The project as has been proposed foresees the creation of Europe’s only integrated casino resort,” Cyprus’ Energy, Commerce, Industry and Tourism Minister Yiorgos Lakkotrypis was quoted as saying by the Associated Press. “The casino resort will among other things include Europe’s largest casino,” Mr Lakkotrypis reportedly said at a signing ceremony on Monday.
The proposed casino resort in the coastal town of Limassol will include 136 gambling tables and 1,200 gambling machines, while the adjoining luxury hotel will have a 500-room capacity, a health spa and 1,500-seat concert hall, reported the Associated Press.
According to Mr Lakkotrypis, the resort will cost more than EUR500 million (US$559 million) to build. The official predicted that the project would attract around 300,000 additional tourists to the east Mediterranean island annually.
The consortium received a 30-year casino licence. After 15 years of exclusivity for the winner, competing licences might then be issued to other parties. The consortium will also be allowed to build a satellite casino and three slot parlours in that country.
Melco International did not disclose the investment for the Cyprus casino scheme nor the projected start date for construction.
Andy Choy, an executive with Melco International’s subsidiary Melco Resorts and Entertainment Ltd, told the Associated Press that the casino resort in Cyprus should be built by the first half of 2020. An interim casino in Limassol and four smaller gaming venues in other cities will start operating early next year, he added.
“We understand that gaming is something that you entrust to an operator that has world-class systems in place to ensure that you get the type of economic development that you’re looking for,” Mr Choy was quoted as saying by the media outlet.
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Vice-chairman and chief executive at Macau casino operator SJM Holdings