Cyprus casino opening delayed until 2022

by Ethan Anderson Last Updated
Cyprus casino opening delayed until 2022

The impacts of the coronavirus pandemic have forced plans to open a new casino in Cyprus back another year.

Casino.org reports that the opening of the City of Dreams Mediterranean, which was set to become Europe’s largest casino resort, has been delayed until 2022.

Its parent company Melco Resorts confirmed the delay.

Cyprus Gaming and Casino Supervision Commission Vice President Phidias Pilides informed the Cyprus parliament in February that the casino is targeting the third quarter of 2022 for its commencement.

The US$667 million development was originally set to open by the end of 2021.

Pilides revealed that Melco Resorts encountered supply chain delays caused by the coronavirus and construction has commenced at a slower rate.

Despite the pushback in City of Dreams welcoming guests in Cyprus, Melco told officials in the Mediterranean island nation that 2021 will still be a good year for the tourism and gaming industries.

As more than half of a billion-dollar integrated casino resort is being built, Melco has opened a temporary satellite casino in Limassol, plus satellite gaming facilities in Nicosia, Larnaca, Paphos and Ayia Napa.

Melco’s gaming licence for City of Dreams is good for 30 years and includes a monopoly on gambling for the first 15 years.

The licence began in 2017.

Though COVID-19 devastated gross gaming revenues at the casinos in 2020, Melco expects gaming to rebound quickly.

“In the middle of June, operations at Cyprus casinos partially reopened,” CEO Lawrence Ho said.

“We saw a swift return of domestic gaming demand, which drove the return of our third quarter gaming revenues to approximately 75 per cent of last year’s level.”

“We continue to expect a faster rebound and faster growth in the premium gaming segments,” Ho added.

Melco Resorts said by the end of 2021, it will employ approximately 1400 casino employees at its four satellites and temporary casino in Limassol.

And next year, the company will hire thousands more, as City of Dreams Mediterranean nears completion.

The integrated casino resort will feature a casino floor measuring roughly 81,000 square feet, equipped with 1000 poker machines and 100 table games.

The property will offer a five-star hotel with 500 rooms, 11 restaurants and eateries, retail shopping, a space and wellness centre, an outdoor amphitheatre and convention and event spaces.

Hong Kong based Melco also owns and operates City of Dreams and Studio City in Macau, plus City of Dreams Manila in the Philippines.

The attractiveness of the Cyprus market is the tax rate the government offered Melco, which is 10 per cent of casino win.

By comparison, Macau casinos share 35 per cent of their slot machine and table game winnings with the local government.

In the Philippines, this is 25 per cent on mass market gaming and 15 per cent on VIP play.

Wynn pivots to grow fourth quarter earnings

A pivot in its target market has helped Wynn Resorts grow its earnings in Macau.

Calvin Ayre reports that the company saw its adjusted property earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation back in the black in the fourth quarter after it suffered a $112.1 million loss in the third quarter.

Wynn was in the positive by $39.4 million for the final quarter in the year, in part due to a greater focus on the premium mass gambling segment, a move that is likely to continue in the foreseeable future.

The latest figures were made available through a company filing, in which Wynn Resorts chief executive Matt Maddox pointed out that improved travel and reduced COVID-19 restrictions helped with the recovery process.

In addition, the premium mass segment gave the rebound “particular strength”, while VIP and mass-market gaming improved as well.

The quarter’s mass market table drop was $1.29 billion, six times higher than the previous quarter and VIP turnover from table games improved almost at the same rate, coming in at $4.58 billion.

Still, both figures were nowhere near the number Wynn Macau had seen a year earlier, before the coronavirus upended Macau.

The improvement in premium mass action was possible due to a shift in operations across the last six months of 2020.

Wynn realised what was going to drive its growth and began implementing changes that would allow it to focus better on the premium mass segment.

Maddox explained in the company filing that, “it’s crystal clear that the growth drivers for Macau are really the sweet spot for our company, and that’s the premium segment, premium mass in particular.”

He added, “the premium segment did better than the core mass segment, it was not down 50 per cent as the overall mass was.

“We do not need 50,000 people a day walking through our facilities to get back to our target.

“We require significantly less people because we cater to the higher-end customer…we are targeting that segment and we are going to get more market share in the premium-mass segment than we have in the past.”

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