Melco & Co. Oppose New Cyprus Deadline

A partnership that includes Lawrence Ho’s (l.) Melco International Development, Hard Rock International and Cyprus Phasouri Ltd. is protesting a deadline extension for a casino license on the Mediterranean island. Its rivals for the license asked for the deadline to be pushed from July to October.

Original deadline was July 5

Local media on the island of Cyprus are reporting that a gaming coalition led by Lawrence Ho’s Melco International Development is against a deadline extension for the jurisdiction’s single casino license.

According to GGRAsia, a report from In Cyprus said Ho’s group, which also includes U.S.-based Hard Rock International, informed the government in writing of its disagreement with the extension and “has insisted that the original timeframes should be followed.” The original deadline was July 5, but representatives of NagaCorp Ltd. and Bloomberry Resorts Corp. asked that it be pushed back to October.

In a March filing to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, Melco International listed its partners as Seminole HR Holdings LLC, owner of Hard Rock International, and local conglomerate Cyprus Phasouri (Zakaki) Ltd. “The multinational consortium… has been informed of a three-month extension to the submission of the request for proposals for the integrated casino resort in the Republic of Cyprus,” Melco wrote to GGRAsia. “The consortium has expressed its readiness and willingness to submit its final bid on July 5 as originally planned. The consortium remains fully committed to the project and is looking forward to collaborate with the Cyprus government for what it considers to be in the best interest of Cyprus.”

Melco is out to diversify as its hub operations in Macau struggle with a two-year recession.

The winning licensee will have about two years to develop the resort; in the interim, it also will have the option of building a temporary casino to generate revenue. The first integrated resort in the southern part of the Mediterranean island must offer a minimum of 100 gaming tables and 1,000 gaming machines. The chosen operator may also develop a smaller satellite casino and a freestanding outlet with just three machines.

The license will be valid for 30 years with an exclusivity clause for the first 15 years. There are currently no legal casinos in the southern part of the republic, which is affiliated with the Greek government; however, several casinos operate in the northern Turkish sector.

The project, approved by the government in August 2015, is expected to boost tourism and create some 25,000 new jobs.