Cyprus congress moves casino plan forward

  • 17th December 2013 | Nicosia, CY
  • A recent government decision to create a super casino in Cyprus has garnered much attention to enrich tourism and benefit the economy. The second congress titled “Casino in Cyprus – The Final Countdown” held last week, called authorities to expand its plan and speed up procedures.

    Cyprus avoided total economic collapse and exit from the Eurozone this year with a financial aid package from the European Union. As part of a three-year adjustment plan to pay off its swelling debt, President Nicos Anastasiades announced the casino ban would be lifted to develop a “super casino” and open smaller facilities in towns throughout the country.

    CyprusUnder legislative changes, the license holder will be entitled to operate two branches of the integrated casino resort in two other regions close to the main one, informed Savvas Vergas, Mayor of Paphos. “That is to say that the investor will have the right to create small casinos that can start operations before the major casino,” explained Paphos. The Mayors of Cyprus’ five main districts are gearing up to bring one of the limited facilities to their respective territories.

    While the government has indicated that the process will take a year to complete, representatives of the congress said authorities should speed up procedures as the Cypriot economy is in quick need of major investments. Lefteris Christoforou, House Commerce Committee Chairman, stressed the positive effects of operating a casino on the economy, tourism and job creation.

    During the congress, it was explained that Cyprus would be in an advantageous position by fast-tracking legislation due to its geographical position between Europe, Asia and Africa. It would also help the island-nation be internationally recognised as an important commercial, business and communication hub in the region. International casino operators, investors and interested parties were in attendance, voicing the same opinion to move forward the casino plan.

    The Cyprus Hotel Association (CHA) shared the government’s aim to implement a regulated industry and credible license issuing procedure that will attract global investment for a casino resort with high specifications. Haris Loizides, CHA President, said that a state-of-the-art facility run by a major operator will be clinical for the entire region, the Middle East and Arabian Gulf.

    “Undoubtedly, the creation of casinos will attract more tourists, contributing towards solving the chronic problem of seasonality,” described Loizides. “According to the study that has been carried out, a casino will attract an additional 500,000 tourists to Cyprus every year. It will also be a substantial starting point for attracting major investments for the benefit of the economy with the parallel creation of new jobs.”

    There are currently no legally operated casinos in Cyprus, although 24 exist in the northern breakaway state. Greek Cypriots frequently travel to the breakaway state and overseas to spend money at casinos and it is argued taxable revenue could be retained in Cyprus, as well as developing new business opportunities and boosting tourism. The government has said that legislation is being reviewed with the aim to fast-track the bureaucracy and red tape associated with casino gaming.

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    By: Michael Robinson, Editor-in-Chief