TRAVEL GAZETTE – Eight international casino operators have expressed interest in acquiring the concession for Cyprus’ first casino resort, the official in charge of the project has said.
Under Secretary to the President Constantinos Petrides said that eight casino specialists responded to the government’s invitation issued in September for an expression of interest by the time the three-month period expired at midnight on Friday.
Petrides refused to reveal the identities of the interested applicants, saying that confidentiality is part of the conditions of the contest.
But he said that a short list of three applicants will be prepared by the government’s advisors.
“By the beginning of February the government will have the names of three applicants to choose from,” Petrides told the state television.
Legislation approved in July by Parliament provides for the establishment of “a top comprehensive casino resort in Europe and one of the best in the world.”
The integrated operation should include luxury accommodation, entertainment, gaming and dining of world standard.
The legislation provides for a five-star establishment with at least 500 luxury rooms, at least 100 gaming tables and at least 1,000 gaming machines.
When the invitation was issued in September, local media said that four casino giants from Las Vegas, Malaysia and Macao had already established premises in Cyprus to promote their interest in the project.
Ministry of Commerce sources said at the time they were Las Vegas casino operators MGM and Caesars, Genting from Malaysia and Kezner from Macao.
Petrides said that criteria to be used for the choice of contestants will be quality, including experience and present activities, which will weight 40 percent on the final decision. The vision and planning for the project, which must take into consideration Cyprus’ character, will weight 60 percent on the choice.
Petrides added that the three finalists will be called upon to submit detailed plans for the project and their choice of location.
“By the end of next summer will be able to announce the successful contestant,” Petrides said.
Consultants hired by the government say that after the casino starts operation, the eastern Mediterranean island can expect a considerable increase in its tourism, which accounts for more than 12 percent of its annual economic output.
They project a potential increase of one million in the number of tourists coming every year specifically for the casino.
The casino concession will be valid for 30 years and will enjoy 15 years of exclusive operation.