Asia-based gaming firms are said to predominate among the three shortlisted bids for a first casino licence in the Republic of Cyprus.
Chinese official news agency Xinhua, quoting local media outlet Politis newspaper, said that “the three best offers” submitted where from: “a consortium comprising Hard Rock of Las Vegas and Melco of Macau, Bloomberry of the Philippines and Naga of Cambodia”.
Maggie Ma, spokeswoman for Asian casino developer Melco Crown Entertainment Ltd and for Asian gaming investor Melco International Development Ltd, recently told GGRAsia by email: “Melco Crown has no plans for Cyprus. However, Melco International remains interested in exploring various emerging gaming jurisdictions globally including the Republic of Cyprus.”
GGRAsia has been unable so far to clarify which Hard Rock entity – if any – might be involved in a bid for a Cyprus casino licence.
Bloomberry Resorts Corp, operator of Solaire Resort and Casino in the Philippines, submitted on December 18 an “indication of interest in bidding for the Cyprus integrated resort project,” according to a comment by the firm’s director of investor relations, quoted by the Nikkei Asian Review.
Timothy McNally, chairman of Asian casino developer NagaCorp Ltd – a firm which runs the NagaWorld resort in Cambodia’s capital Phnom Penh and is planning a casino in the Russian Far East where it broke ground in May – had confirmed in an email to GGRAsia in October that it was “exploring the market” in the Republic of Cyprus.
The republic is the ethnic Greek portion of that Mediterranean island.
Xinhua quoted Politis newspaper as saying an official announcement on the three bidders would be made this week, after a government committee handling the matter had drawn up a shortlist based on eight submissions made in December. The three bidders would be invited to join the final stage of the bidding process.
Xinhua also quoted the newspaper as saying that the order in which officials mentioned the shortlisted names also indicated – in descending order – the perceived strength of the three bids. Xinhua added however, that “in the final phase of the contest to start soon, they [the bidders] will be invited to submit their final bids which will be evaluated from scratch”.
The final bids would be required to include detailed plans for a project and a choice of location.
In July local legislators passed a measure called the Operations and Casino Control Law. Among other things, it sets up a regulator called the Cyprus Casino Gaming Commission (CGC), and allows the licensing of a single so-called “integrated resort” with a casino and leisure facilities, on a 30-year permit. No mention has been made in reports so far of what capital investment would be required from bidders.
The law states: “The world class casino shall include at least 100 gaming tables and 1,000 gaming machines. Should the operator wish to install more than 200 gaming tables and/or 2,000 gaming machines, approval from the CGC shall be required.”
The Cyprus casino law mentions plans to impose a 15 percent tax on gross gaming revenue at the country’s proposed integrated resort.
The framework legislation for the casino provides for an establishment of at least 500 luxury hotel rooms.
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