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Casino Giant, Melco, Places $630M Bet On Cyprus

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Casino Giant, Melco, Places $630M Bet On Cyprus

Cyprus' president Nicos Anastasiades, right, and Lawrence Ho, Chairman and CEO of Melco, hold a painting of the Casino resort project during the groundbreaking ceremony for the new casino resort. (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)

After decades of discussion and indecision, the process for the creation of an integrated casino resort on the island of Cyprus is now well under way.

One of the giants in the world of leisure and entertainment, Melco International, has been granted the exclusive license for developing the much-anticipated project, which has been given the ambitious moniker, City of Dreams Mediterranean.

Cyprus’ tourism sector has set one record after another over the last few years, with tourist arrivals now surpassing 3 million annually: not bad at all for an island with a population of less than 900,000.

This is how the casino resort in Cyprus will look like, once finished.City of Dreams Mediterranean

But are those arrival numbers high enough to risk an investment of approximately $630 million (€550 million)? Melco – which already operates casinos in Macau and the capital of the Philippines, Manila – isn’t betting on it, and hopes to attract an additional 300,000 tourists annually in order to ensure the massive project it is undertaking is both viable and, of course, profitable.

Bringing the world to Cyprus

"I was in Cyprus recently for the City Of Dreams Mediterranean groundbreaking and was struck not only by the beauty of the island and its setting, but the scale of the joint opportunity ahead of us,” Chairman and CEO of Melco, Lawrence Ho, told Forbes.

Continuing, Ho explained: “The Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades described our investment as having extraordinary benefits to their economy, both in terms of GDP, and from the critical perspective of job creation. But beyond the numbers, what we mustn’t overlook, is that Melco is going to bring the world to Cyprus."

To this end, Ho divulged details of Melco’s experience in opening up avenues of luxury and leisure opportunities, revealing: "Since we opened our first resort in Macau more than ten years ago, Melco has been continually redefining luxury and pleasure for a sophisticated international audience. Our newest hotel, Morpheus, is a case in point. Designed by Zaha Hadid, its iconic structure houses the most incredible combination of exciting, unforgettable guest experiences and it’s this level of excitement and entertainment that's in store for Cyprus."

So what will City of Dreams Mediterranean possess that will succeed in attracting visitors from all over Europe and the wider world?

The integrated casino resort will feature 500 five-star guestrooms, exclusive suites and villas and 11 world-class restaurants and bars. Recreation, sport and leisure facilities will include a spa, fitness studios and indoor and outdoor swimming pools.

Meanwhile, the gaming area will cover 7,500m2 with approximately 140 tables and 1,200 gaming machines. The casino resort will also feature 1,200m2 of retail area designed to replicate the streetscape of the capital of Cyprus, Nicosia (specifically, the city center of its old, historical quarters).

Despite paying homage to the capital in this capacity, the casino resort will actually be built in Limassol, in the area of Zakaki. The land upon which the casino will be developed belongs to CNS, a local corporate group, which manages businesses across a variety of sectors, including (amongst others) real estate, telecommunications, dairy, large-scale farming and export and mining in Cyprus. It is worth mentioning that Hard Rock International was also a member of this consortium during the first stages of the licensing procedure but pulled out when the contract with the local government was signed.

The contract provides for an operation license of 30 years and exclusivity for 15 years. Of course, in the case of Cyprus, an exclusivity license doesn’t mean exactly what it is supposed to mean. In the north part of the island, which has been illegally occupied by the Turkish army since 1974, there are over 20 fully factional casinos.

The so-called ‘Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus’ is not recognized by any country in the world other than Turkey and yet a lot of tourists still visit the casinos in the occupied area. Consequently, there is already competition for Melco and that is something that the group already knows and seems ready to face.

City of Dreams Mediterranean is projected to open its doors in 2021 and is expected to create around 2,400 permanent jobs once fully operational. In addition to the casino resort, the group is allowed to operate four satellite casinos across the rest of the island, namely, in Nicosia, Larnaca, Paphos and Ayia Napa.

Until the casino resort is ready, a pop-up casino nearby has already commenced operations. Cyprus Casinos (C2) – as it has been named – commenced operations on the June 28th of this year, comprising 4,600m² of space, inclusive of a 1,300m² gaming area (complete with 33 tables, 242 slot machines and a VIP gaming area), a restaurant and two bars. The casino operates on a 24/7 basis and entrance is allowed to guests above 21 years of age.

The pop-up casino that has already commenced operations.City of Dreams Mediterranean

Craig Ballantyne, Property President of City of Dreams Mediterranean and C2, said that close to $15 million (€13million) was invested in this facility to ensure that every one of its guests will experience the renowned standards and quality of service for which Melco is famous.

Read more http://news.google.com/news/url?sa=t&fd=R&ct2=us&usg=AFQjCNGsF33GuYDWUg6viYMSFMTL8J3YDQ&clid=c3a7d30bb8a4878e06b80cf16b898331&ei=A4DYW_iqOITlhQHRuJT4Cg&url=https://www.forbes.com/sites/antonisantoniou/2018/10/29/casino-giant-melco-places-630m-bet-on-cyprus/

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