A total of 12 major companies from the USA, Philippines, Cambodia, Russia and France have formally expressed interest.
These casino operators paid €10,000 each for the option to bid. Formal expressions of interest (EOI) started on September 18 and will end on December 18, 2015. The industry is hoping that the entire tender procedure will be transparent and beyond doubt.
The main players
The five main players are as follows:
• Hard Rock: an international hotel operator that also operates casinos in Hollywood, Tampa Florida, Biloxi, Las Vegas, Northfield Park and Punta Canain the Caribbean.
• NagaCorp: the largest hotel, gaming and leisure operator in Cambodia, a company listed on the Hong Kong stock exchange.
• Bouygues of France: a joint consortium with Accor Hotels and Barriere. The Cyprus Weekly understands that the company’s interest is supported by local actors. French construction group Bouygues Batiment International is a 22% shareholder in Hermes Airports Ltd, which operates Larnaca and Paphos airports. Accor Hotels announced on Wednesday it was spending $2.9 billion on luxury hotels including London’s Savoy and New York’s Plaza.
• Bloomberry Resorts Corp: A company that belongs to Enrique K. Razon Jr., a Filipino billionaire who owns International Container Terminal Services, one of the largest container-port terminal services in the world.
• Russian’s Absolute: A company that owns banks land, commerce and used to run a casino in Russia.
According to the same source, Genting, the Malaysian conglomerate and operator of hotels and casinos, decided in the end not to file an official proposal. Similarly, Sun International, the South African resort hotel and casino chain that belongs to Sol Kerzner, is unlikely to make a full bid even though it has an option to do so.
The interested companies will be notified of the EOI procedure results 45 days after their submission date. This will mark the beginning of the process to find a final bidder to secure the licence within 2016 and then build the casino resort, approximately two years later.
The operator will have the choice of building a temporary casino construction within the first year so that it can start receiving returns on its investment as soon as possible.
On private land
The government has made it clear that the casino will be built on privately-owned land.
This creates a huge opportunity for owners who have large pieces of land available. Landowners are being encouraged to talk to potential operators to attract their interest.
The Ministry of Commerce, Tourism and Industry estimates that a casino resort could add up to 500,000 more tourists in Cyprus compared with around 2.4 million today. It will also create hundreds of job opportunities.