A three-way international contest for the concession of the first Cyprus Casino may have just become a solo race as two of the bidders may not be able to make a final bid, a Cypriot official said recently.
Press reports said two of the three bidders on the short list have not yet been able to find suitable land for the casino resort at prices within their planning budgets.
An official of the Ministry of Commerce said on condition of anonymity that the government was not willing to grant an extension on the date to submit final detailed plans for the casino despite the fact the prospect of less than three bidders would weaken its position in the final negotiations.
Only a consortium comprising Melco International Development Limited of Macau, China; Hard Rock of Las Vegas, Nevada; and Phassouri of Cyprus, has up to now secured suitable land for the project.
Phassouri is an agricultural company which produces and packages citrus fruit at orchards not far from the southern port city of Limassol.
The other two bidders selected for the final stage of the competition - Bloomberry-Solaire of the Philippines and Naga of Cambodia - have already asked for and received a three-month extension until October 5, 2016 to submit their detailed plans for the project.
Commerce Minister Giorgos Lakkotrypis would not comment on press reports that the government was hesitant to grant yet another extension, but he told a parliamentary committee that the aim was still to award the license to the successful bidder before the end of 2016.
The government had originally planned to receive final plans for the project by June 5 and award the license by the end of the summer.
A Cypriot newspaper reported that Bloomberry-Solaire was losing interest in the Cypriot casino project because of the high prices demanded by land owners and that Naga was still engaged in negotiations to buy land.
This is despite the fact land owners have been beleaguered for years due to the economic crisis.
The Cypriot newspaper added that this made it very hard to prepare plans in time for the project in case the Cypriot government would not grant a time extension.
Melco-Hard Rock was also reported to have objected to an extension, warning it would possibly lose interest in the project.
The Cypriot government had invited bids for a casino resort that would include a five-star hotel with at least 500 rooms, 100 gaming tables, and 1,000 gaming machines.
Such a project would require an investment of about €500 million (US$561 million).
The casino concession will be valid for 30 years and will enjoy 15 years of exclusive operation.
Source: Famagusta Gazette