The biggest gaming resort in Europe, the City of Dreams Mediterranean, is slowly emerging near Limassol, Cyprus, with 14 floors, 9 restaurants and cafes, 3 swimming pools, as well as a family adventure park. Grant Johnson, the person tasked with delivering the project, confirmed that the casino resort will feature 100 gaming tables and 1,000 slot machines and will be the largest European integrated casino resort.
The arrival of the venue, however, could bring fresh competition to the island of Cyprus, which northern region is already home to more than 30 casinos.
Gambling is currently a major economic booster for the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), which is officially only recognized by Turkey. In the south part of the island, there are already 4 casino venues, all operated by Melco Resorts. However, the Government in Nicosia hopes that the new gaming resort, the City of Dreams Mediterranean, will up the ante for the island, attracting 300,000 more visitors, including many high-roller customers, on an annual basis.
Before the Covid-19 pandemic outbreak, the tourism sector accounted for approximately 15% of the gross domestic product (GDP) of the south. Unfortunately for the owners and operators of the City of Dreams Mediterranean, the beginning of the pandemic delayed the venue’s opening, which is now scheduled for the end of 2022. Ongoing Russia’s military invasion of Ukraine and the travel ban and other economic sanctions imposed by the European Union on Russia then came as some new difficulties in the way of the casino resort project.
Now, despite all the setbacks, the project is underway, aiming at breaking the reign of the Northern Cyprus casino sector. Once the new casino resort starts operation, the island is expected to see a wave of new visitors, including high-roller ones, potentially from Asia, but also Europe, Turkey, the Middle East, and Russia.
Cyprus Opposed Casino Gambling for Quite Some Time in the Past
With all the preparations being made for the new casino resort to be up and running as soon as possible, casinos are still a sensitive subject in Cyprus.
Casino gambling was not legal on the island until 2015, with the Greek Orthodox church strongly opposing the legalization of casinos and the former President Demetris Christofias having shared fears that the new form of gambling would bring corruption to the country.
However, the serious problems faced by the local banking system in 2013 saw some big gambling operators approaching the Government calling for it to give them the opportunity to expand their services in the country. The offer seemed too good not to take but some experts, the country is not ready to deal with all the negative effects of gambling, including money laundering, criminal activity and the underground economy.
The finance ministry of Cyprus, however, rejects these claims, saying that the Government has been fighting against money laundering and terrorist financing, and has been continuously working to minimize the risks associated with the expansion of the gambling sector.
Now, the country is aimed at becoming one of the most attractive casino destinations in Europe, an actual equivalent of Las Vegas of the Middle East.