Melco Invests $630 Million in Cyprus Casino Economy

Thursday, November 8th, 2018 | Written by April Bergman
Melco Invests $630 Million in Cyprus Casino Economy

Melco Resorts & Entertainment is investing $630 million in the City of Dreams Mediterranean on the island nation of Cyprus. Melco CEO Lawrence Ho appeared at a press conference with Cyprus’ president Nicos Anastasiades recently to debut artist renderings of the proposed casino and make his pledge to invest $630 million in the economy.

City of Dreams Mediterranean is the planned centerpiece of Cyprus’s new land-based casino economy. Melco won the right to build the huge integrated casino-resort, along with 4 smaller casino-resorts, throughout Cyprus.

Cyprus, searching for new tax revenues without raising taxes on its citizens, decided to build a casino industry in 2015. With a population of 900 thousand people, but a tourism industry which draws 3 million visitors a year, Cypriot leaders decided they could generate tremendous revenues from legalizing land-based casinos. The idea is to draw another 300 thousand tourists to Cyprus each year with their casino-resorts. Europeans can visit a beautiful Mediterranean island and gamble for entertainment in a world class resort.

City of Dreams Mediterranean Specs

City of Dreams Mediterranean will have 500 5-star hotel rooms, along with villas and exclusive suites for high rollers. The property will have 11 restaurants and bars designed by famous chefs, along with 1200 slot machines and 120 gaming tables and a poker room.

As an integrated resort, the City of Dreams also will have a retail shopping area designed to look like the old quarter of Nicosia’s streetscape. The casino itself will not be in Nicosia, but instead in the city of Limassol, in the area of Zakaki.

Melco Resorts Won Gaming Monopoly

Melco was one of 8 top companies which bid on the casino project. Top European and American casino companies bid on the project, so it was a bit surprising when Melco Resorts was chosen as the lone developer.

That is nothing against Melco — it is one of the giants of the global casino industry. It’s just that one would have expected a European country and a member of the EU to choose one or more European casino companies. Melco’s offer blew the Cypriot government officials away.

Ho Praises Cyprus

To hear Lawrence Ho talk, the feeling is mutual. Ho recently told Forbes about his impressions of Cyprus, known for its natural beauty. The 42-year old Melco chief executive told the Forbes interviewer, “I was in Cyprus recently for the City Of Dreams Mediterranean groundbreaking and was struck not only by the beauty of the island and its setting, but the scale of the joint opportunity ahead of us.”

“The Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades described our investment as having extraordinary benefits to their economy, both in terms of GDP, and from the critical perspective of job creation. But beyond the numbers, what we mustn’t overlook, is that Melco is going to bring the world to Cyprus.”

Melco Resorts Profile

Melco Resorts is known for one of the most successful casinos in Macau, the City of Dreams Macau. The casino brand coming to Cyprus also has a resort in the Philippines: City of Dreams Manila. The two Asian casinos generate tremendous cash for Melco Resorts.

Beyond that, Melco also owns Altira Hotel, Morpheus Resort, and Studio City in Macau. When Studio City opened in 2016, Lawrence Ho paid $70 million to director Martin Scorcese to make a 15-minute short film about the casino’s grand opening. Scorcese recruited Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert DeNiro, and Brad Pitt to play themselves in the film short.

Lawrence Ho’s Grand Ambitions

Lawrence Ho, the son of the legendary casino mogul, Stanley Ho (called “The King of Gambling” in China), has bold ambitions in the casino world. Ho built the first casino in the Russian Far East, Tigre de Cristal in the Primorye Krai district near Vladivostok. He since sold the Tigre de Cristal, but only to compete for a Japanese casino license.

Ho’s $630 million investment in Cyprus’s casino economy is impressive, but his main plans are in Japan. Mr. Ho said he would spend “whatever it takes” to win a Japanese casino license. He also developed the MelGuard security system and claimed he would move Melco’s headquarters to Japan, if he won a license there.

Melco: 10 Years of Success

In his Forbes interview, Lawrence Ho described his past successes and his future vision for the company. Ho noted, “Since we opened our first resort in Macau more than ten years ago, Melco has been continually redefining luxury and pleasure for a sophisticated international audience.”

“Our newest hotel, Morpheus, is a case in point. Designed by Zaha Hadid, its iconic structure houses the most incredible combination of exciting, unforgettable guest experiences and it’s this level of excitement and entertainment that’s in store for Cyprus.”