Huge changes in gambling are going on in Cyprus, beginning with two satellite or “pop-up” casinos as heavyweight Melco International Development Ltd. begins its City of Dreams development.
Melco first opened a temporary casino on the island at the end of June. The casino is the first of five that Melco is working on while work continues on the firm’s City of Dreams Mediterranean Resort.
After the first satellite casino was launched at the end of last month, it didn’t take Melco long to start planning a second venue, taking a similar shape as the same temporary model, only this time the destination is Cyprus’ Larnaca International Airport.
The original stopgap casino, called C2, is located in Limassol, a city in the south of the country. Local reports have said the casino will remain open until 2021, by which time work on the eagerly awaited City of Dreams Mediterranean will begin.
Craig Ballantyne, president of CDM, said: “Even though C2 is a pop-up casino, this property will give new meaning to the term. We’ve invested close to EUR13 million ($15m; £11.6m) 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 has been built inside an old superstore with a floor area of 4,600 square meters, allowing up to 1,000 customers to be hosted.
What this means for Cyprus
Since joining the European Union, the country has gone through a severe economic crisis and is just now starting to regain stability. Many of the country’s economists hope that the boost of revenue from Melco’s resort will pay a big part in ensuring the economy’s stability in years to come.
Predictions are that revenue generated by Melco’s resort, which is due to open in 2021, will account for up to 4% of the country’s GDP once employment figures and tourism income are taken into account.
The country’s gambling landscape started to change in 2012 when new regulators were formed. The National Betting Authority and the National Gaming and Supervision Commission now govern gaming and licensing in the territory. The new project has been spearheaded by Nick Tofiluk, ex-chief of the UK Gambling Commission.
A second already on the cards
Melco’s investment in the country is not slowing down. While this latest addition to their portfolio has just opened and work on the City of Dreams Mediterranean is ongoing, it won’t be long before the pop-up is opened at Larnaca. This time, it’s the result of a consortium led by Melco called Casino Resorts Cyprus Ltd., thanks to a two-year lease recently signed with Hermes Airports Ltd., which is responsible for Larnaca International Airport.
The casino will have two locations within the terminal. According to reports released by Hermes Airports, “The first location to be allocated is situated in the departures area, accessible only to departing passengers, while the second one is situated in the arrivals area, accessible to the general public. The first location is expected to be ready and operational in the next three months while the second one is expected to be ready by the end of the year.”
It’s part of a 30-year casino license granted by the Cypriot government that also covers three additional satellite casinos in the territory. The plan is to open these other venues as stopgap casinos until the resort is finished in 2021, at which time the operator says they will close and operations will be transferred to the main site.