Casino investor Melco International Development Ltd has confirmed in an email to GGRAsia that its consortium has been approved for a casino licence in the Republic of Cyprus.
“We have been informed by the Republic of Cyprus that the Cabinet of Ministers has approved the decision to award the first-ever casino resort licence to our consortium,” the firm said on Tuesday in response to an inquiry from GGRAsia.
Agence France Presse had reported on May 19 – citing comments by the Mediterranean nation’s Commerce Minister, George Lakkotrypis – that the country’s cabinet had “ratified the Melco-Hard Rock CNS consortium licensing for the casino resort”.
That was a reference to Melco International; U.S.-based casino and hospitality firm Hard Rock International Inc; and local conglomerate Cyprus Phasouri (Zakaki) Ltd.
The Famagusta Gazette separately reported the same day that the cost of the project had been estimated at EUR500 million (US$562 million), including the cost of the land and the construction of the project on a site near the seaside resort of Limassol.
In its email reply, Melco International, a company led by casino entrepreneur Lawrence Ho Yau Lung, didn’t confirm the cost of the project.
The Gazette additionally reiterated some of the terms of the casino permit, including that the casino concession would be valid for 30 years, initially with a 15-year exclusivity period, meaning the government would not during that time grant another permit for a so-called integrated resort.
The state would take 15 percent of gross income from gambling and an annual fee starting at EUR2.5 million for each year for the first four years, rising to EUR5 million per year for the following four years, noted the media outlet.
The plans provided for a casino and five-star accommodation with at least 500 rooms, 100 gaming tables and 1,000 gaming machines, added the Gazette.
Melco International is the majority owner of Asian casino operator and developer Melco Resorts and Entertainment Ltd, also led by Mr Ho. In early April, Melco Resorts announced it was dropping the Hard Rock brand from its City of Dreams casino resort in Macau. The brand had been used for a hotel at the property since it opened in 2009.
Hard Rock International and Melco Resorts are likely to be rivals in the race for a Japan casino permit. Senior management at Melco Resorts and executives from Hard Rock International have indicated separately that they wish to bid for a licence in that country.
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