New Temporary Cyprus Casino Packs in Customers, Huge Draw

FILE - People stand at a gambling table at the temporary casino during the groundbreaking ceremony for the new casino resort, in Zakaki, near southern city of Limassol on Friday, June 8, 2018. The new casino resort in Cyprus that is expected to be Europe's biggest will be the centerpiece of the Mediterranean island's strategy to become a luxury tourism destination, the country's president said Friday. (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)

A temporary casino that opened on Cyprus ahead of a coming 550-million euro ()full-scale operation from Hong Kong billionaire Lawrence Ho’s company has proved a big hit already, attracting more than 34,000 people from 41 countries, officials said.

Craig Ballantyne, Property President of City of Dreams Mediterranean and Cyprus Casinos, said: “So far, the number of visitors has exceeded our expectations and we are very gratified with the response from our guests,” the Cyprus Mail reported.

It’s bringing big-wheelers and high-stakes gamblers too, with more than 6,000 registering to become members of the C2 Rewards Club loyalty program.

“We believe the accelerating attendance rate and strong performance of new members joining the Cyprus Casinos C2 Rewards Club is driven by the strong, positive word of mouth and self-discovery by the market,” said Ballantyne.

“By the numbers, the most visitors have been Cypriots, followed by those from Greece, Israel, Romania, Russia and United Kingdom. The most popular games have been our state-of-the-art Slot Machines, followed by American Roulette,” he added.

The temporary facility opened June 28 in Limassol with 33 gaming tables and 242 slot machines, a Salon Prive VIP gaming area, Columbia Bistro restaurant and two bars and runs 24 hours a day non-stop and is drawing 2,000 people a day.

Temporary casinos are also slated for the main districts in Cyprus, and recent reports said Larnaca Airport would begin operating a small casino with slot machines.

The permanent City of Dreams Mediterranean is due to open in 2021 with Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades boasting it will create around 6,500 jobs, attract an additional 300,000 visitors to Cyprus each year and pour some 700 million euros ($828.5 million) into the economy annually.

“Our country is much more than just an attractive ‘sun and sea’ tourist destination,” Anastasiades said at a groundbreaking ceremony. “Cyprus has all the prerequisites to be established as a regional and, why not, global premium destination, a genuine point of reference for luxury tourism and responsible gaming.”

After a financial crisis that nearly bankrupted the country five years ago, Cyprus has rebounded with its economy projected to grow at around 3.5 percent annually in the next few years.

Ho, chief executive of Hong Kong-based Melco International Resorts and Entertainment, said the resort project is his company’s first expansion outside of Asia.

“Our project will contribute significantly to the country’s efforts for sustainable economic growth and an increase in employment rates,” he said.

The resort will offer 136 tables and 1,200 gaming machines, a five-star, 500-room hotel and luxury villas, 11 restaurants, retail shops, sports and wellness centers and an amphitheater.