Cyprus Mail

Casino process ‘moving fast’

By George Psyllides

The government aims to select and license a casino operator in less than a year from today, government spokesman Nicos Christodoulides said on Friday, as he outlined the main provisions of the administration’s policy on the matter.

The duration of the licence will be 30 years, with the operator retaining exclusivity for 15 years. The government will be collecting a 15 per cent tax on gross revenues.

“Procedures are going ahead fast and the government’s aim is to select and license the operator of the Integrated Resort Casino in less than a year from today,” Christodoulides said in a statement.

The spokesman added that it was the first time procedures for a project of this size were moving at such a fast pace.

Christodoulides said the necessary legislation, currently being reviewed by the legal service, took into consideration studies and international practices, and it included provisions that ensured implementation of a secure, controlled, and strictly regulated gaming framework, way from any elements of criminal activity.

The bill will be published on Saturday on the Energy, Trade, Industry and Tourism Ministry webpage.

Apart from the casino, the project will include restaurants and other recreation areas. The location will be selected by the investor.

The duration of the licence will be 30 years. The operator will be afforded a period of 15 years during which no other casino licence will be issued, Christodoulides said.

The establishment will be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week and only persons 21 and above will be allowed to gamble.

The operation will be regulated by a national gaming authority.

On coming to power last year, the government asked the Cyprus Tourism Organisation (CTO) to update a 2007 study into the creation of casinos to help them decide on the form they would take – whether they will be accompanied by other development projects.

The original CTO study into developing casinos predicted annual revenues for the state of between €35m and €50m, as well as a significant boost in employment opportunities.

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