By Bejay Browne
PAPHOS plans to lobby the government to change its recent decision to create one casino resort rather than give out licences to each district.
Andreas Soteriades, Secretary of SEKO Paphos – the Coordinating Committee of Parties and Organisations – told the Cyprus Mail that a special meeting has been called for this coming Saturday to discuss the matter in more depth.
“Representatives of local hotels, shops and other organisations, as well as the mayors from the district will discuss what we can do to ensure Paphos is able to have a casino,” he said.
“It will be a disaster for Paphos if a casino resort is built on the east of the island or in Limassol. We believe that we have to make a plan and request a meeting with President Anastasiades.”
Soteriades added that SEKO had sent a letter concerning a casino for Paphos to the President in May and recently received a reply, which was non committal.
“We believe that it will be better for Cyprus to have a few casinos in different areas, instead of just one,” he said.
Soteriades noted that SEKO met with former President Demetris Christofias during his term in office but failed to secure a deal for Paphos. Christofias was against the creation of casinos in general and vowed that as long as he was in office, Cyprus would never have a casino.
“We sent a letter to the President, which states that the government’s decision is wrong, constitutes unfair competition with the areas that will not have casinos and that Paphos believes that we meet all the necessary requirements such as tourist flow, high quality visitors and the infrastructure to operate a casino,” Soteriades said.
Following the recent decision by the cabinet to allow the creation of a single casino resort in Cyprus, government spokesman Christos Stylianides said that the new venture would attract half a million new tourists to Cyprus and create over 3,000 new jobs.
Currently, there are no legally operated casinos in the Republic of Cyprus, but 24 exist in the northern breakaway state, which are often used by many Greek Cypriots.
The government said that the bureaucracy and red tape associated with the casino resort would be fast tracked to ensure it is conclusion within a year.
The decision to permit just one casino in Cyprus, over numerous smaller ones, was based on a study conducted by private-sector consultants and commissioned by the Cyprus Tourism Organisation.
The move is likely to face tough opposition from the areas that will be excluded once the decision is taken as to which area will secure the casino resort licence. Larnaca has already said it should be the choice.