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About Cyprus Gaming
Northern Cyprus has plenty of casinos to choose from, and the South has at least one large integrated casino resort on the horizon. Read the below for complete details, including the geographical and political issues of casino gambling in the region.
Casinos of North Cyprus
Most of the nearly 30 casinos in Northern Cyprus are located seaside in Kyrenia (Girne in Turkish) with a couple on the coastal peninsula at Bafra and further south along the same coast at Famagusta. Inland casinos are mostly located at Nicosia (Lefkosa).
Premiere casino resorts include the 5 star Rocks Hotel & Casino, and the Arkin Colony Hotel & Casino in Central Kyrenia. To the east are the 5 star Cratos Premium Hotel & Casino, Acapulco Beach Club & Resort Hotel and Malpas Hotel & Casino at Çatalköy, and west of Central Kyrenia visitors will find the 5 star Jasmine Court Hotel and Merit Crystal Cove Hotel and Resort.
Bafra is home to the 5 star Kaya Artemis Resort & Casino and Noah's Ark, while Famagusta still hosts fine hotel casinos such as Salamis Bay Conti and Arkin Palm Beach Casino, even though the southern quarter of the town known as Varosha is a ghost town and hasn't seen any tourists since the Turkish invasion in 1974. Varosha was once one of the most important tourist destinations in the Mediterranean but today entry is forbidden to the public.
In Nicosia, you'll find almost half as many casinos as are located in Kyrenia including the luxury 5 star Golden Tulip and the Merit Lefkosa Hotel & Casino. The city is also home to the Nicosia Racecourse, home of major races such as the Cyprus Derby and Cyprus Turf Club Cup in November featuring mixed races for thoroughbreds and country-bred horses.
Casinos of the Republic of Cyprus (south)
For now, most southern Cypriots travel north to play casino games but as soon as late 2017 at least one legal satellite casino or temporary casino in Limassol is expected to open. The Melco/Hard Rock "Republic of Cyprus Integrated Casino Resort" which should have a new working name by then, may open in phases but upon completion will offer at least 500 luxury rooms exceeding 5 star standards, at least 100 gaming tables and 1,000 machines with as many as twice that number possible. Amenities are unknown at this time (late December 2016) but should include but not be limited to "meeting facilities, convention facilities, paid for attractions, complementary attractions, sports facilities, sports venues, entertainment venues, tourist facilities, retail and dining facilities and recreational amenities.
Contenders were free to propose any blend of facilities and attractions, so considering the competitors vying for the license and the quality of Melco and Hard Rock offerings worldwide, expect the very best in everything offered. The winners were also granted a license to open up to four satellite casinos in other districts with up to 50 machines at each with one of the four locations allowed to offer five table games.
Are there casinos in Turkey? Is it Girne or Kyrenia? - what's going on?
The Republic of Cyprus is divided into South and North Cyprus with about four percent of the island covered by a U.N. buffer zone separating the two. The international community views the island as one nation, with the North occupied by Turkey. Turkey considers everything north of the buffer zone to be the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. Suffice to say the laws of the Republic of Cyprus are not enforced in the North and vice versa. Inside the buffer zone many illegal casinos have operated with the North and South policing their own citizens.
While all casinos in Northern Cyprus and those operating within the U.N. buffer zone are technically illegal, but those in Bafra, Famagusta, Kyrenia, Nicosia, and a few other cities are allowed to operate. Many of the existing casinos in the north were lost to Cypriot citizens of the south when Turkey invaded and they fled their homes. They now operate under Turkish, northern Cypriot, or Russian 'ownership', sometimes under their original names.
There are currently no legal casinos in Turkey but plenty in the "Turkish occupied" northern part of Cyprus. Turks and Turkish Cypriots, as well as many travelers refer to cities and districts in the north by their Turkish names, such as Girne - whereas the Republic of Cyprus and the international community use the Greek or Cypriot names in most cases. Girne is known to the rest of the world as Kyrenia. Lefkosa is referred to as Nicosia, etc.
Not to choose sides, but to stay in line with accepted naming conventions we have used the southern Cypriot names for all cities except Çatalköy, as almost all international visitors refer to the city by that name rather than the "Greek" Agios Epiktitos.
Cypriot gambling legal environment
The Betting Act 2012 reinforced several gambling laws passed since the Republic was created in 1960 and have been amended 6 times prior to 2012, and it adds more. But most importantly it effectively banned online betting and didn't provide for horse race betting. It wasn't until 2015 that meaningful legislation designed to open a casino in the south was passed. On 21 July 2015, the Law to Regulate the Establishment, Operation, Function, Control and Supervision of Casinos and Related Matters of 2015 was enacted by Parliament.
The law provided for the licensing and operation of a single integrated resort (IR) casino (plus satellites) and established the Republic of Cyprus Casino Gaming Commission.
After a contentious tender process that saw industry heavyweights vie for the lucrative license, unofficial reports identified Hard Rock International of the United States, NagaCorp of Cambodia, Bloomberry Resorts Corp of the Philippines, a French venture including Bouygues Batiment International Accord Hotels and casino operator Barriere of France. A conglomerate out of Russia (including Absolut) may also have been interested in the license, but the government kept the tender process secret. Genting Malaysia, Caesars Entertainment, and Sun International were also mentioned by inside sources.
It wasn't until mid-March 2016 that the government released the names of the final three bidders. By the end of September Bloomberry and NagaCorp had dropped out, reportedly due to real estate issues. Melco International Development Ltd confirmed that their consortium, which includes Hard Rock International and Cyprus Phasouri Limited, had tendered a bid in October.
In November, Giorgos Lakkotrypis, Minister For Energy, Commerce, Industry And Tourism, announced that at least a temporary or training casino could open in Limassol by the end of 2017.
The final anchor ICR is expected to be the largest casino in Europe by table and machine count and the first full scale integrated casino resort.
Cyprus Casinos and Gambling Facts
Cyprus is a country in Eastern Europe with legal gambling.
There are 9 cities with gambling facilities in Cyprus which have 38 legal gambling facilities available in total.
The types of gambling available in Cyprus are: casinos, horseracing tracks, sportsbetting parlours.
The largest gambling city in Cyprus is Kyrenia with 17 gambling facilities, 178 tables games, 2,122 gaming, slot, and video poker machines.
The largest casino in the entire country of Cyprus is City of Dreams Mediterranean which is located in Limassol. City of Dreams Mediterranean has 100 table games, 1,000 gaming and video poker machines.
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- Licensed Casinos: 38
- Horse Tracks: 1
- Licensed Bingo: 9
- Lotteries: 0
- Table games: 422
- Slot machines: 4,374
- Poker tables: 16
- Simulcasting: 1
- Greyhound Tracks: 0
- Cities with Gambling: 9
- Sportsbetting Parlours: 6
- Casino Hotels: 13
- Venues: 86
- Restaurants: 78
- Minimum Bet: 0.01
- Maximum Bet: 5000
- Total Casino sq/ft: 347,346 sq/ft
- Total Convention sq/ft: 144,625 sq/ft