Cyprus casinos back up and running

by William Brown Last Updated
Melco wins legal battle against ILGA

Melco Resorts’ Cyprus subsidiary says it has resumed operations following a three-month closure due to COVID-19, with four of its five Cyprus casinos having reopened on Saturday.

ICR Cyprus, which is 75 per cent owned by Melco and 25 per cent by local firm Cyprus Phassouri Ltd, suspended operations on March 17, impacting its four C2 satellite casinos – Ayia Napa, Nicosia, Larnaca and Paphos, as well as Limassol, the temporary casino in operation while the 550 million euro City of Dreams Mediterranean is being developed.

Asgam reports that Melco said it had now reopened for business albeit with a range of restrictions including a limit of three players per gaming table and every second slot machine being deactivated.

Smoking has also been temporarily banned at both tables and slots.

Under guidelines issued by the Minister of Health, casinos have also implemented awareness campaigns and staff training as well as stringent sanitisation procedures.

“The health and safety of guests and colleagues are our top priority,” said Vice President of Gaming Operations Devi Kerr.

“C2 has prepared a comprehensive series of hygiene measures to safeguard the health and comfort of guests and colleagues throughout the casinos.

“It is our belief that the casinos’ reopening will not only contribute to strengthening the tourism industry, but also the recovery of the local economy.”

One of the company’s casinos, C2 Larnaca, has yet to reopen as it moves from its former home at Larnaca International Airport to a new location, Melco said, with all employees to be temporarily transferred to other sites.

Cyprus restricts gambling ads

Cyprus became the latest European country to come up with restrictions in the way gambling services are advertised on its territory, Casino News Daily reported last July.

The Cyprus Gaming and Casino Supervision Commission announced it has crafted a set of rules regarding the promotion of the Mediterranean nation’s nascent land-based casino industry.

There are four operational casinos on the territory of the Republic of Cyprus – one temporary casino in Limassol, which will remain operational while a larger integrated resort is under development in the city, and three satellite casinos in Nicosia, Larnaca, and Ayia Napa.

All four gaming facilities operate under the Cyprus Casinos (C2) brand, which is managed by Integrated Casino Resorts (Cyprus) Ltd. (ICR), the local subsidiary of Hong Kong-listed gaming and hospitality giant Melco Resorts & Entertainment.

The Cyprus Gaming and Casino Supervision Commission issued on July 17, 2019 its Casino Advertising and Promotions Direction, which contains a list of restrictions ICR is obligated to comply with in order to avoid regulatory trouble.

The regulator’s advertising code took effect on the very same day it was issued.

The commission pointed out that its recently published directions set the standards and requirements for advertising casino gambling on the territory of Cyprus.

The regulator also noted that its latest move aims to “ensure gambling activities are carried out in a socially responsible manner.”

Cyprus taking no chances with new casino

Cyprus’ gaming regulator has reached an agreement with three different companies to perform detailed checks of international junket operators before they are given the green light to set up at Melco’s new City of Dreams Mediterranean.

Asgam reported in November that local news outlet in-cyprus reported that the Cyprus Gaming and Casino Supervision Authority will use the trio of companies to conduct due diligence checks on all of Melco’s prospective junket partners to ensure they have no ties to illegal activities such as money laundering and financing of terrorist groups.

The unnamed companies are from the United States, United Kingdom and a third is based out of Cyprus and Malta.

“We want the Cyprus casino to operate on the basis of international standards of full transparency, especially at a time when international pressure on Cyprus is increasing because of the citizenship by investment program and provision of passports to persons with criminal records,” a source familiar with the situation revealed.

The news comes after Australia’s Crown Resorts found itself in hot water recently after an investigation by local authorities into its relationship with Asian junket operators following a series of dramatic television and newspaper reports in July.

Melco Resorts hold a 75 per cent stake in the operating entity of City of Dreams, ICR Cyprus with the remaining 25 per cent owned by a local firm.

ICR Cyprus is currently operating a temporary Cyprus casino facility and three satellite casinos in Nicosia, Larnaca and Ayia Napa.

The 500 million euro City of Dreams is scheduled to open in late 2021.

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