The Operations and Casino Control Legislation of 2015 was enacted by the Cyprus Parliament into Law upon its publication in the Official Gazette of the Republic on July 21st 2015.
The Law on the Regulation, Establishment, Operation, Function, Control and Supervision of Casinos and Related Matters of 2015 provides for the operation and regulation of an Integrated Casino Resort (ICR). The Law also provides for the establishment of the Cyprus Casino Gaming Commission (CGC), an independent Governmental agency responsible for the regulation, auditing, and the casino tax collection.
In September 2015, the Ministry of Energy, Commerce, Industry and Tourism will proceed with a competitive, non-discriminatory and transparent two-stage procedure to select the single licensee for the Integrated Casino Resort (ICR).
The Integrated Casino Resort (ICR) will capture economic benefits as it will attract foreign investment and increase inward capital, generate fiscal revenues, support associated industries and generate employment. It is also expected to promote the Cyprus tourism by attracting visitors throughout the year.
Interested persons will be able to express their interest openly following a public announcement. A Steering Committee will set out the criteria for the pre-selection and shall limit the number of pre-selected persons to the three (3) candidates with the highest scores.
The final selection will be subject to ratification by the Council of Ministers, which may reject any candidate unsuitable on public interest or national security grounds. The final pre-selected candidates will be invited by the Steering Committee to participate by submitting their comprehensive proposals within a 3 month period.
Following the selection, the operator’s plan will be approved and licensed by the Casino Gaming Commission (CGC). The operator will develop and operate the premises including, inter alia:
- A casino of international standards with at least 100 gaming tables and 1000 gaming machines. Electronic table games shall be classified as gaming tables. A maximum of 200 tables and 2000 machines may be installed without the consent of the CGC. Should the operator wish to install more than 200 gaming tables and/or 2000 gaming machines approval from the CGC shall
- A five star hotel or hotels of at least 500 luxury rooms. The international standard hotel or hotels shall exceed the requirements for a five star hotel as these are determined by the Hotel and Tourist Accommodation laws and regulations.
- Other activities and facilities which should aim to develop the ICR’s proposition in a manner that best supports the strategic objectives of the Government. Examples of such other facilities include, but are not limited to, conference and meeting facilities, convention facilities, paid for attractions, complementary attractions, sports facilities, sports venues, entertainment venues, tourist facilities, retail and dining facilities and recreational amenities. Interested Candidates are left free to propose such blend of facilities and attractions in accordance with their business model and what they consider best suited for the purposes of the Cyprus Integrated Casino Resort.
A single ICR will be licensed and the operator will be given a 15 year exclusivity period commencing from the date of the grant of the license, during which the Government shall not grant another casino license in the Republic of Cyprus. The term of the license will be 30 years, renewable from year 12 for a further term.
The operator will have the option to develop, in addition to the ICR, up to four satellite casino premises, in districts other than the one where the ICR will be located. The satellite casino premises must further be operated by the ICR operator in a way to be considered supportive to the operation of the main resort. The selection of site for the integrated casino resort will be left to the unrestricted choice of the operator interested in obtaining the license.
The gaming duty rate will be 15% of gross gaming revenue and cannot be increased during the exclusivity period. No deductibles will be allowable against gaming duty (other than an allowance for free play) and a single rate will be applied on all casino gaming activities including casino games and gaming machines.
The operator will be required to have policies and a programme of responsible gaming measures approved and monitored by the CGC. EU compliant Anti-Money Laundering (AML) procedures are required at all times. The CGC will monitor and enforce non-criminal enforcement of the gaming licence requirements.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought on your specific circumstances. For further information, please contact Eleni Drakou.