The three shortlisted bids for the first casino licence in the Republic of Cyprus should be announced next week, say several local media reports. Asia-based gaming firms are said to predominate among the finalists.
Cyprus’ parliament is to vote on March 10 regarding regulations for establishment of the first casino resort in the country. The three shortlisted bids will be announced the day after the vote – if the regulations are approved – reported the Cyprus Mail news outlet.
The three bidders would then be invited to join the final stage of the bidding process.
The Republic of Cyprus is the ethnic Greek portion of that Mediterranean island.
“The regulations are sufficiently stringent, aim to protect the public and gamblers in the casino, and are on a par with those in force at European and international casinos,” said Zacharias Zachariou, the chairman of the parliament’s commerce committee in comments on Tuesday, quoted by the Cyprus Mail.
“Upon their selection, the three shortlisted candidates will have before them the whole picture so they can proceed and bid for the licence,” stated Angelos Votsis, acting chair of the parliament’s finance committee, also quoted in the same report.
According to the Cyprus Mail, the draft regulations submitted for a final vote state that all casino employees must provide the gaming regulator with their fingerprints. The rules are also reported to forbid the operator from directly encouraging gambling.
Chinese official news agency Xinhua, quoting local media outlet Politis newspaper, reported over the weekend that the “three best” casino bids submitted to the Cyprus authorities 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.
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”We expect Goa to quickly become a US$1 billion market as it transitions to land-based casinos (from US$150 million today), which is still just a fraction of India’s total GGR potential of US$10 billion to US$17 billion”
Analyst at Union Gaming Securities Asia