Cypriot capital launches bid for country’s first casino

By Brad Allen
Nicosia is positioning itself to be the site of Cyprus's first casino resort.

Cyprus commerce minister George Lakkotrypis stated in May that the country will be able to issue licenses to land-based casinos by spring 2015.

The capital city’s chamber of commerce (EVEL) met yesterday with the city mayor and other officials where it was decided to establish a committee to actively pursue a casino licence.

Support for a casino centres around the economic benefits for a nation with 17.4% unemployment.

In 2007 the Cyprus Tourism Organisation predicted annual revenues between €35m and €50m, but have been asked to provide an updated figure.

EVEL president Costas Georgallis told the Cyprus Mail: "A casino would attract an entirely new type of tourist, one who would not come just for sea and sun – those tourists only fill a six-month period".

He added that Nicosia was the ideal spot for the resort thanks to its central location, dense population and cheap land.

“Nicosia has lower rents compared with coastal areas with opportunities for increased profitability of such a project resulting in increased tax revenues for the government,” said Georgallis.

The next step for the Nicosian committee is to marshal finances for a study into the feasibility of situating a casino in the capital.

While the northern side of Cyprus, under Turkish control, has been issuing casino licences for years, the Greek-controlled southern side, which includes Nicosia, has been forbidden to do so by law.

This was mostly due to opposition from the Greek Orthodox Church, as well as the fearful notions of southern Cypriots about the social dangers of gambling.

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