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Cyprus – Casino bill submitted to parliament

By - 22 May 2014

Legal preparations to create Cyprus’s first casino resort, in the Greece-controlled south of the island, will be completed by tomorrow in order for the bill to be submitted to parliament before the end of the month. Preparations are also underway for the launch of an open tender, with many Cypriot business people having already expressed interest.

Tomorrow, the Cabinet will discuss the legislative framework based on a policy document that includes the terms and conditions for the casino licence prepared by consultants Deloitte. It will also discuss the issue of smoking in the casino and other restrictions. The licence for the ‘super’ casino will be for 15 years, while the investor will have the option to renew it for another 15 years.

After the first 15 years the Gaming Commission will be able to grant new casino licenses to other interested parties, in order to create healthy competition.
The initial amount for participation in the tender competition for the casino licence will be more than €50 million.

Following applications from investors the Gaming Commission will select three to five investors. It will then examine their proposals for due diligence. Apart from the casino licence the Gaming Commission will also grant other separate licenses concerning installations of video lottery machines. Minister of Commerce George Lakkotrypis predicts the first licence will be issued in around March or April of 2015. He said once the law is passed, the licensing process should take eight months.

The licence holder of the casino resort will be permitted to operate a number of other small branches in towns around the island. Casinos in small towns and other areas will be permitted to open but will only operate gambling games such as fruit machines. The state will receive 15 per cent of the gross profit from the casino.

The bill also includes the creation of a special four or five member committee of experts that will monitor developments and the casino’s operation procedures.
Commerce ministry officials said that the operation of the casino resort will extend the tourist period and will increase tourist arrivals throughout the year while it will also create thousands of jobs.

And the investor chosen from the tender procedure for the creation of the casino will also choose the area to build the complex. The government estimates that the cost of building the casino is €0.5bn. The casino resort will include a five star hotel, conference centre and golf course.

It is estimated that 50 per cent of the casino’s revenue will come from other services offered at the casino and the other 50 per cent from gambling. There are also provisions in the bill in relation to the tax imposed by the state based on the casino’s revenue. Entrance will be allowed to anyone over 21 and smoking is expected to be allowed in spaces where there are games.

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