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Short list of three casino bidders by February, MPs told  

The government will, by February have the short list of bids for the creation of a casino resort in Cyprus, MPs heard on Tuesday.

Permanent secretary of the commerce ministry Stelios Himonas told a joint session of the House finance and trade committees:  “We have started the evaluation of applications. We will be ready in a month to proceed with the proposal for the three.”

During the first phase of the process eight bids were submitted, Himonas said.

He said the regulations for the operation of the casino resort had been submitted to the European Commission, which had come back with two questions concerning the protection of personal data and on restrictions on free movement of gaming equipment. These questions would be answered in cooperation with consultants from the ministry, he said. He urged deputies to speed things up on their end.

According to Himonas, the regulations govern various matters, including the individual functions of a supervisory authority and control of the authority by the auditor-general.

The chairman of the finance committee, DIKO leader Nicolas Papadopoulos, wondered whether there were adequate guarantees that the investor to be chosen would have the funding to implement the massive project.

Himonas responded: “Based on the information we have, the three to be selected will be invited to present evidence on the elements of funding.”

The chairman of the trade committee, Zacharias Zacharias said deputies would take two weeks to study the regulations and seek clarifications or submit observations during the next meeting on the subject. The aim he said, would be for the House to adopt the regulations in February.

While the names of the bidders have not officially been announced, it has been widely reported in the local press that three companies were the frontrunners in the race.

As it was previously reported in the media, the three most likely bidders are: Hard Rock, an international hotel operator with casinos in Hollywood, Tampa Florida, Biloxi, Las Vegas, Northfield’ Sun International, a resort hotel and casino chain with extensive interests in South Africa; and Bouygues, a French company specialising in online gaming.

Malaysian giant Genting Group was the name at the top of the list but withdrew its interest.

The Ministry clarified that the names of the companies will not be made public. The statement said that the bids will be evaluated based on financial capability, experience in developing casino resorts, understanding of the Cyprus market, and their vision for the casino resort.

The plan is to issue the licence within 2016 and then build the casino resort in approximately two years’ time.

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