Bloomberry Resorts Corp, operator of Solaire Resort and Casino in the Philippines, submitted on Friday 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.
Legislators in the Republic of Cyprus, the ethnic Greek portion of the Mediterranean island of Cyprus, in July passed a measure called the Operations and Casino Control Law. Among other things, it sets up a regulator called the Cyprus Casino Gaming Commission, 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.
A media outlet on Cyprus had identified two Asian casino operators – NagaCorp Ltd, operator of NagaWorld in Phnom Penh in Cambodia, and Bloomberry Resorts – as being among contenders, from an original field of 12, likely to submit a full proposal for the single available licence.
Eight international casino operators have expressed interest in acquiring the concession for Cyprus’ first casino resort, the official in charge of the process said on Saturday, according to a report by Xinhua, an official Chinese news agency.
Constantinos Petrides, Under Secretary to the President, said that the applicants’ names – submitted respectively before the midnight Friday deadline – were being kept confidential by the government.
Mr Petrides added that a shortlist of three applicants would be prepared by the government’s advisors.
“By the beginning of February the government will have the names of three applicants to choose from,” he told state television in Cyprus.
Mr Petrides said that the quality of each applicant – including experience and present activities – would be given a 40 percent weighting in the decision process. Vision and planning for the project, which must take into consideration Cyprus’ character, would be given a 60 percent weighting, added the official.
Xinhua said consultants hired by the Cyprus government have indicated that after the casino starts operation, the eastern Mediterranean country is likely to see an increase in tourist arrivals.
“It is expected that the [Cyprus] council of ministers will select three bidders by mid-February 2016 to advance. These three bidders will then have 90 days to submit binding proposals,” said a note on Friday from Union Gaming Research LLC.
“Assuming all goes as planned, Cyprus could select a casino operator as early as mid-2016… Assuming a two or three year build cycle, a casino could open in Cyprus as early as late 2018,” added analysts Christopher Jones and John DeCree.
The successful applicant would also be entitled to operate four satellite casinos on Cyprus, said Union Gaming Research, quoting the legislation.
“The licence will also allow for up to four additional satellite casinos, each of which will be allowed to operate up to 50 gaming machines, with one [satellite property] allowed to operate five gaming tables as well,” observed Mr Jones and Mr DeCree.
Although the licence would run for 30 years, there would only be an exclusivity period for the first 15 years, noted the institution.
The 15 percent tax on gross gaming revenue for casino operations would have “no deduction, other than promotional play,” the note stated.
“Smoking and alcohol will be permitted, as will credit and junket operators, under separate licensing,” added Mr Jones and Mr DeCree.
NagaCorp and Bloomberry Resorts respectively are already actively pursuing casino projects outside their original markets.
NagaCorp, as well as developing and operating the NagaWorld casino resort in Cambodia’s capital Phnom Penh, in May broke ground on a casino project in the Primorye Integrated Entertainment Zone near Vladivostok in the Russian Far East.
Bloomberry Resorts, led by Philippines entrepreneur Enrique Razon, has previously announced plans to invest more than US$1 billion in a proposed casino resort complex in South Korea and is also seeking a gaming permit in Argentina.
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