Hong Kong-based developer Melco International Development announced Wednesday the appointment of casino industry veteran Craig Robertson Ballantyne as President of City of Dreams Mediterranean, the €550-million integrated resort currently under development in the Republic of Cyprus.
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Mr. Ballantyne started his career in the gambling industry in 1972 when he joined UK gambling operator Ladbrokes. Between 1976 and 1979, he served as Casino Manager at the company. He then occupied several General Manager positions at several casino properties across the UK owned by Ladbrokes.
He has managed casinos and casino resorts across Europe, Asia, and in South Africa since 1990.
Most recently, he served as Chief Operating Officer of Russian Operations at Summit Ascent Holdings, the owner of Tigre de Cristal Resort & Casino in Russia’s Primorskiy Kray. He joined Melco in the fall of 2017.
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Mr. Ballantyne’s responsibilities as President of City of Dreams Mediterranean will include ensuring that the property’s operations are conducted in full compliance with Cypriot law. He will also oversee the hotel and casino complex’s management and employees across its all operational spheres.
City of Dreams Mediterranean is currently under development in the city of Limassol, Cyprus. The property is expected to be completed and launched in 2021. Melco is set to operate a temporary casino, while the main resort is under construction.
The temporary venue is expected to open doors later this year, perhaps in the summer when Cyprus traditionally sees the biggest flow of international visitors.
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Melco won the exclusive right to run casino operations within an integrated resort in Cyprus back in 2016. The company bid together with Florida-headquartered gaming and hospitality giant Hard Rock International and Cypriot group The Cyprus Phassouri (Zakaki) for the only gaming license issued by the government of the tiny Mediterranean republic.
Hard Rock later on withdrew from the €550-million scheme and Melco took its stake to become a majority owner. Melco and its local partner were granted the license for the operation of casino gambling last May. Under the terms of that license, the group of investors will also open four smaller-scale satellite casinos in the capital Nicosia, Paphos, Larnaca, and the Famagusta area.
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According to preliminary estimates, the construction of the major resort, the first of its kind in Europe, will create 4,000 jobs every year during construction and 6,500 permanent jobs, once the property is finished and operational. Melco has also said that the newest addition to its portfolio of properties will be able to produce revenue of €700 million after its second year of operation. That equals to around 4% of Cyprus’s annual GDP.
City of Dreams Mediterranean will look to attract both VIP gamblers and mass-market customers from around the world. It is expected that the resort will be drawing additional 300,000 foreign tourists every year.