Assessing the casino wider impact
So, at long last, out of the 12 initially interested international casino operators, we were left with only one! The reason was attributed mainly to the lack of sizeable plots suitable for the purpose, with land owners asking such high prices that they exceeded the cost of the building project. A major blunder was made by our MPs who excluded government land for the purpose, and thus the state has lost out on having a hefty annual rental income, whereas the ever-dynamic Limassol, which always acts as a team, secured the only tender at the Zakaki village area.
The Zakaki plot is located in the wider Phassouri plantation which, set on the western periphery of Limassol, has many advantages, not only because it is part of the wider city boundary, but also by offering good transportation access, an almost direct connection with the motorway, next to the port and to the local My Mall shopping complex, as well as proximate to the local water park and the lovely Ladies Mile beach.
The project, based on the required specifications and subject to the initial announcement by the sole bidder, will include a casino resort which will host a 5-star hotel, a conference hall with a capacity to hold 1,500-2,000 people, as well as restaurants, entertainment areas, and so forth.
Meanwhile, we are informed that it will be the only "Las Vegasâ€ type of casino in Europe, and is expected to create approximately 4,000 new jobs (with all the related services) and which will place the island on the gamblersâ€™ and entertainment-seekersâ€™ map.
The project, taking into consideration the nearby facilities such as the golf course and the houses, of approximately 500 units, to be developed there, together with the water park and related facilities, as well as an attractive wooded environment cannot but be a plus.
The endeavour, which is expected to cost around €0.5 billion, will also create a new "businessâ€ community for Limassol, just as the Russian community and other offshore enterprises already provided for the city. In the meantime, we expect that until the project is developed, estimated to take three to four years, the operator will be allowed to set up a temporary casino, which, we suspect will be at an existing entertainment project in eastern Limassol which is of a large size, open plan and quite attractive. We suspect it is the Monte Caputo night spot.
This Government has bent over backwards to provide all sorts of planning relaxations (given that it has concluded real estate development is one of the two factors that will help the Cyprus economy (the other is tourism). Hence, the casino project is expected to attract, in addition to the ordinary tourists, natives from the main gambling â€˜nationsâ€™, which include Israelis, Greeks and even Chinese, who have shown a positive preference for the island, especially with respect to the visa-passports scheme. To this end, the direct air routes between Cyprus and China, provided by the new Cobalt airline will help. Cruises might also benefit from this venture, albeit not to as great an extent, as well as the Marina projects.
We will then experience a transformation of the area from its present low-cost status to that of up-and-coming private real estate, albeit that it might take a short wait. Well done, Limassol.