Europe’s Largest Casino Complex Heading to Cyprus in 2021
Europe’s largest casino complex is expected to open its doors in 2021 in the small Mediterranean island of Cyprus. A €550 million investment, City of Dreams Mediterranean is expected to bring in €700 million and 300,000 tourists a year to the Cyprus economy, and create 11,000 jobs.
A consortium consisting of Hong Kong-based development company Melco and the CNS Group is behind the endeavour, which is to built in Zakaki, west of southern major city Limassol. Originally, Florida-based Hard Rock International was to also be part of the project, but they backed out last summer just as the final contracts were being signed.
The casino itself will include 136 tables and 1,200 slot machines, as well as almost 10,000 square meters of conference and exhibition space. It will be accompanied by a five-star coastal resort with luxury private villas, 500 rooms, 11 restaurants, a retail area, and a sports and wellness centre.
Like all of Melco’s other casinos, City of Dreams will be themed, based on a traditional Cypriot hillside village with extensive greenery, clear blue waters, and whitewashed buildings. Until it opens, a temporary casino will open in Limassol, as well as four satelite casinos in other areas of the country. These are set to begin operating in 2018.
Lawrence Ho, CEO of Melco, has expressed enthusiasm for what is the company’s first venture outside of Asia: “I am proud that the Cypriot government has entrusted Melco and CNS to build Cyprus’ first integrated resort, which will place Cyprus on the world tourism map and attract visitors not just from the surrounding region but also from the whole of Europe and around the world.”
Whilst mega casino complexes like this are common in places like Vegas and Macau, City of Dreams Mediterranean will be the first of its kind to open in Europe. It is no wonder that the development is expected to attract a large influx of tourism into the island, which currently competes with other Mediterranean destinations, notably Greece. In particular, the casino will attract year-long tourism as opposed to the highly seasonal beach and adventure tourism that is most popular in the summer months on the island.
The country’s economy plummeted during a crisis in 2013 and has only recently began recovering, thanks to a combination of austere measures and a €10 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund and the EU. Last year, the economy grew 4%, and such figures are again expected for this financial year, with tourism continuously on the rise for the island. Within a year of opening, the new casino complex is expected to account for about four percent of the country’s GDP.
Indeed, the casino is very much part of the government’s plan for the recovery of the country. Whilst there has been some protest against the project, notably from the powerful Greek Orthodox Church, Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades has praised and publicly backed it, stating that the government had established that ‘the benefits for the country certainly outnumber any negative consequences’..