The government of the Republic of Cyprus announced on Tuesday the three preferred bidders for the first casino resort in the ethnic Greek portion of the Mediterranean island.
The shortlist includes “a consortium comprising Hard Rock of Las Vegas and Melco of Macau”, Philippine casino operator Bloomberry Resorts Corp and Cambodian casino operator NagaCorp Ltd, according to local media reports.
In a recent email to GGRAsia, Hong Kong-listed Melco International Development Ltd confirmed its interest in exploring Cyprus’ gaming market. Melco International, chaired by Lawrence Ho Yau Lung, is one of the two controlling shareholders of casino operator Melco Crown Entertainment Ltd.
Bloomberry Resorts, operator of Solaire Resort and Casino in the Philippines, in December said it was bidding for a casino licence in Cyprus.
Timothy McNally, chairman of Hong Kong-listed NagaCorp, had confirmed in an email to GGRAsia in October that the firm was “exploring the market” in the Republic of Cyprus.
The three shortlisted companies – chosen from eight initial bidders – will now enter a second round where a “complete proposal” is to be submitted, according to the Ministry of Interior. The ministry plans to announce the winning bidder by September, and the casino resort should open two years later.
“The ministry expresses its satisfaction with the level of interest demonstrated and looks forward to a successful completion of the process, as provided by law,” it said in a statement quoted by news agency AFP.
The winner of the final round would be awarded a 30-year casino licence. After 15 years of exclusivity for the winner, competing licences might then be issued to other parties, according to local media reports.
Each bidder’s final proposal must include at least 500 luxury hotel rooms, 1,000 gaming machines, and 100 gaming tables. The winning firm will also be allowed to build a satellite casino and three slot parlours in the country.
Cyprus’ parliament approved last week regulations for establishment of the first casino resort in the country.
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Ambrose So Shu Fai
Vice-chairman and chief executive at Macau casino operator SJM Holdings