All eyes on Cyprus for Europe’s first integrated casino resort

All eyes on Cyprus for Europe’s first integrated casino resort

Monday, February 6, 2017

The eyes of Europe will be on Cyprus as the country gets set to open the continent’s first large scale Integrated Casino Resort (ICR).

The Talking Head session, moderated by Rob Heller, CEO and Co-Founder of Spectrum Gaming took place at the International Casino Conference today. The session focused on the proposed opening of the Melco Hard Rock Resort in Cyprus. Once built, the property will be the first ICR in Europe and the only one within 2,000 miles. He added Cyprus already benefited from a strong tourism infrastructure with 90 direct flights into the country.

Mike Rothwell, Managing Director of Caesars EMEA, said operators would be eager to learn lessons from the Cyprus project. He said there was already a “pretty chunky demand” from the consumer side, who were already participating in lotteries and online gaming.

In spite of the Brexit vote, he said Europe was relatively economically stable but believed operators would continue to focus on Asian economies such as Japan and the Phillipines, where their investments would yield more profitable results. He said operators had to balance “the size of the prize versus the effort put in.”

Nelson Parker, Senior Vice President of Casino Development, Hard Rock International said the Cypriot government had introduced a range of favourable measures including the 15-year exclusive licence deal and allowing smoking at gaming tables. He said Hard Rock had made the application for the licence, which was currently undergoing a sustainability review. The company is expecting to build the ICR within two years of the licence being granted.

The panel was asked by Heller where they thought the next European ICR might be.

Christina Romero, partner at Socia Loyra, suggested Madrid or Barcelona but had earlier told the floor that Spain had an “amazing ecosystem” of regulations. Mike Rothwell suggested either a location in Spain or Athens, which also has a strong local market.

Executive VP of MGM Resorts, Alan Feldman said the company was seeking large scale projects in locations that would integrate casinos with hotel accommodation, retail and meeting space.