Cyprus has placed its stakes on a casino resort project to stabilize its crucial tourism sector and keep the economy on track.
It will be the first legal casino to be established on the eastern Mediterranean island which is just emerging from a four-year recession following a 10-billion-euro (12.2 billion U.S. dollars) bailout by the Eurogroup and the International Monetary Fund two years ago.
Legislation regulating the operation of the casino has been scheduled to be passed by parliament early in the New Year and the concession is expected to be licensed by the end of 2015, an official said in an interview with state radio on Saturday.
The project has been exempted from town planning regulations and has been placed directly under the jurisdiction of the president's office, an indication of the government's will to circumvent bureaucracy that could bog down the complicated project.
Constantinos Petrides, Under Secretary to the President, said the government is expecting keen interest to be shown in the project. At least three established casino operators sounded out, including from the Far East, said they would bid to get the concession.
Petrides said the government had to choose between several small casinos, at least one for each of the island's five cities which would require a modest investment and a large one.