The chairman of Hong Kong-listed casino operator NagaCorp Ltd has confirmed to GGRAsia the shortlisting of the firm for a casino licence in the Republic of Cyprus.
According to local media reports the Cyprus government announced on Tuesday three preferred bidders for the first casino resort in the ethnic Greek portion of the Mediterranean island.
The shortlist was described in media reports as involving NagaCorp; a consortium involving Melco International Development Ltd; and Philippine casino operator Bloomberry Resorts Corp.
“We are very pleased to be selected as a finalist for a casino licence in Cyprus… We look forward to the next phase of the selection process,” Timothy McNally, chairman of NagaCorp, told GGRAsia in an email.
Mr McNally added, referring to NagaWorld, a casino resort the firm developed and runs in Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia: “It [the Cyprus shortlisting] speaks well of our growth and achievements over the past 20 years. We are also very proud – as Cambodia’s first listed company on a major exchange – that we have contributed significantly to the growth of the economy of Cambodia.”
In May last year the firm broke ground on a casino resort it plans to build in a special economic zone in Primorsky Krai in the Russian Far East.
Melco International – already an investor in Asian casino developer Melco Crown Entertainment Ltd – on Wednesday issued a filing to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange regarding a possible Cyprus casino project. It said the government of the Republic of Cyprus had confirmed after trading hours on Tuesday that an expression of interest had been shortlisted.
In the filing Melco International said its Cyprus licence application was being pursued via a consortium including Seminole HR Holdings LLC, owner of Hard Rock International, and a local firm called Cyprus Phasouri (Zakaki) Ltd, described as a conglomerate with interests in real estate, telecommunications, dairy, large scale farming and export and mining in Cyprus.
“Melco [International] and Hard Rock International welcome the decision of the Cyprus government and look forward to continue exploring the emerging gaming jurisdiction,” the firms said in the press release.
“Both companies look forward to collaborating with the Cyprus government for what it considers to be in the best interests of Cyprus,” they added.
GGRAsia also approached Bloomberry Resorts for a comment on its reported shortlisting in Cyprus, but had not received a reply by the time this story went online.
The three shortlisted groupings – 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 of the Republic of Cyprus. The ministry plans to announce the winning bidder by September, and the casino resort should open two years later.
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, according to the specially drafted local legislation. The winning firm will also be allowed to build a satellite casino and three slot parlours in the country.
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President and chief operating officer of Macau-based casino operator Sands China