Cyprus Building Biggest European Casino Resort

Beautiful view of the Kyrenia Bay in Kyrenia (Girne), North Cyprus

Cyprus is aiming to be a standout European luxury destination with its new casino resort. It will be the largest investment project ever undertaken in Cyprus.

Casino resort details

Cyprus is going ahead with plans to build what will be the largest casino resort in Europe. This is a key part of the country’s new strategy to be seen as a luxury destination for tourists.

The project has been named the City of Dreams Mediterranean Casino Resort and will cost in the region of $650m (£486m). That makes it the most significant investment project that has ever been seen on the island.

The plan is to have the resort up and running by 2021; it is estimated that it will create more than 6,500 jobs. The resort is expected to attract an additional 300,000 tourists to the country annually, bringing $830m (£620m) into the local economy.

Cyprus clearly wants to shed the tag of just being a tourist destination where travelers can enjoy the sea and sun.

The country’s president, Nicos Anastasiades, speaking at a ceremony during the ground-breaking for this new project, said: “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.”

The ability to invest in such a significant project is a testament to the recovery the country has experienced since almost going bankrupt in 2013. That was a time when the banks were overly exposed to local property groups that were over-leveraged, the debt crisis was ongoing in Greece, and government bonds in Cyprus had been downgraded to junk status, to name just a few of the issues.

On March 23, 2013, Cyprus received a bailout worth £8.8bn ($11.8bn) from the European Central Bank, International Monetary Fund, European Commission, and the Eurogroup.

The country has managed to turn things around, and the economy is now forecast to grow by 3.5% each year going forward.

Casino resort details

The casino resort will be operated by the Melco International Resorts and Entertainment Company, which is based in Hong Kong. This will be the first time that they have expanded outside of their native Asia.

The plan is for 136 tables alongside 1,200 gaming machines at the resort. There will also be a five-star hotel with 500 rooms, luxury villas, 21 restaurants, sports and wellness facilities, retail areas, and a theater for events.

A temporary casino will open on June 28 near where the resort will be located. It will operate until the new resort can open for business. This temporary offering will have 33 tables, 242 slot machines, and an area for VIPs to play.

Other casino resorts in Europe

Cyprus is not the only European nation looking to attract more tourists by building a casino resort. Andorra is a tiny nation nestled in the Pyrenees Mountains between Spain and France that has opened up bidding for its very first casino license.

While the bidding process is now closed and the applicants are under review, they have 13 significant bids. The current front-runners for the license are Genting and Cirsa (a Catalan-based casino).

They both bid $165m (£123m) for this license. The resort itself would cost in the region of $105m (£78m) to build, which pales in comparison to the plans in Cyprus, but it is still a significantly sized project for a country as small as Andorra.

Casino resort vacations are becoming a more and more popular option for European tourists. While some like to travel to places like Las Vegas and Macau, others prefer to stay closer to home.

Greece and Montenegro already have a number of casino resorts that range in price. Outside of Monte Carlo, there are not many options for luxury resorts, which is why Cyprus clearly sees a gap in the market that can be exploited.