The billionaire owner of Hong Kong’s Melco International Development said he’s going ahead with a planned launch of a casino on Cyprus and will open a temporary facility this year to get it rolling.
Lawrence Ho’s company, also majority owner of Macau casino operator Melco Resorts and Entertainment, late in 2017 increased it share to 75 percent in a consortium awarded an exclusive casino licence by Cyprus’ government.
In January company said it wanted a temporary gaming facility prior to the main venue launching in 2021, but didn’t mention a time frame but now said it’s ready to move ahead.
“In 2018, we will commence operating a temporary casino facility while we work towards a 2021 targeted opening for the permanent integrated casino resort,” Ho said, according to GGRAsia. It will eventually become the biggest casino resort in Europe and hopes to lure wealthy gamblers from Asia to the island, which has undergone an economic rebound on the back of tourism after needing a 10-billion euro ($12.29 billion) bailout in 2013 when a bank crisis almost brought down the economy.
Earlier Ho said his company would will operate what will be called the ‘City of Dreams Mediterranean’ in Limassol on the island’s south coast and will also target visitors from Russia and Britain, the financial news agency Bloomberg said in a report.
“Asian tourists will be able to recognize our brand and as time develops they could be attracted to Cyprus,” Ho said in an interview in Nicosia. “Melco as a company attracts sophisticated customers, middle and upper class customers.” Other targets include big rollers from the nearby Middle East.
Melco presented its plans on Jan. 9 for the construction and operation of the resort in Limassol as well as for another four satellite casinos in other parts of the popular vacation destination. The project represents a total investment of 550 million euros ($659.9 million) and is scheduled for completion in 2021.
Melco and local partner The Cyprus Phassouri (Zakaki) won an exclusive license to operate Cyprus’s first-ever casino. Cypriot authorities project that the resort could attract an additional 300,000 visitors a year boosting economic output by a further 700 million euros per annum, currently around four percent of gross domestic product, after the second year of operation.
The casino resort should pump $838 million into the island nation’s economy annually from 2022, the second year of its operation, the country’s President Nicos Anastasiades said, bringing in as much as 4 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of 16.57 billion euros ($19.8 billion).
“Our government’s aim is the creation of a complete casino resort that will be paramount in Europe and one of the best in the world,” Anastasiades said at a presentation of the resort plans.
The City of Dreams Mediterranean casino resort is forecast to create 4,000 construction jobs, employ another 2,500 permanent staff and bring in an additional 300,000 tourists annually from Europe and elsewhere. It will be built by a consortium made up of Melco Resorts and Entertainment and the Cyprus Phassouri Ltd.
Melco says the resort will be Europe’s largest and will include 136 tables and 1,200 gaming machines, a five-star, 500-room hotel, 11 restaurants and cafes and a convention expo center.