Cyprus Pop-Up Casinos Draw 470,000 People, $210 Million Gambled

(AP Photo/Petros Karadjias, FILE)

Three temporary casinos on Cyprus in operation before construction of a planned 2021 opening of Europe’s biggest casino, a 550-million euro ($664.03) gambling colossus by Hong Kong billionaire Lawrence Ho, drew 470,000 customers who gambled 210 million euros ($235.86 million.

The Gaming and Casino Supervision Commission said about 175 million euros ($196.55 million) was paid out from June 2018 through the end of January this year with customer pouring onto the island to take a shot at gaming tables and slot machines, The Financial Mirror reported.

Most of the gamblers, some 80 percent were Cypriots, while four percent were Greeks and 11 percent other nationalities flocking to the pop-up casinos, the major draw in Limassol with 33 gaming tables and 242 slot machines, a Salon Prive VIP gaming area, Columbia Bistro restaurant and two bars that runs non-stop and draws about 2,000 people daily.

Commission Chairman Christos Mavrellis told Cypriot lawmakers an additional 4 million euros ($4.49 million) was paid to the state for licenses.

Responding to criticism in parliament that the casinos have not contributed to increasing the tourist flow as expected, Mavrellis said they expected 300,000 more tourists per year when the integrated casino resort opens in Limassol in 2021, the news site said.

He added the Commission has already received one application from a tour operator interested in bringing foreign gamblers to Cyprus. There are other pop-up casinos in Larnaca and the capital of Nicosia while the major casino is underway.

Mavrellis also told MPs the Nicosia casino appeared to have reduced the number of Greek Cypriot gamblers heading to casinos in the Turkish-occupied north.

Ho’s Melco International Development is building a City of Dreams (CDM) resort that 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 amphitheater.

Craig Ballantyne, President of CDM, last year told Vegas Slots OnLine (VSO): “Even though C2 is a pop-up casino, this property will give new meaning to the term. We’ve invested close to 13 million euros ($15.23 million) in this facility to ensure that every one of our guests experiences the renowned standards and quality of service which Melco, one of the world’s largest integrated resort operators, is famous for.”

The temporary venue was built inside an old superstore with a floor area of 4,600 square meters (49,514 square feet) allowing up to 1,000 customers to be hosted, the site said, adding that the government expects revenues from the casino and resort to bring in as much as 4 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and lure big spenders from Europe and the world, especially Asia.

The Larnaca casino will have two locations in the terminal, the airport operator said, in arrivals and departures, to get people coming and going.

It’s part of a 30-year casino license granted by the Cypriot government that also covers three additional satellite casinos in the territory with more temporary facilities to whet the appetite of gamblers before the big one opens.