NICOSIA, May 18 (Xinhua) -- Cyprus on Thursday named a consortium made up of Melco International Development Ltd of Macau and Hard Rock of Las Vegas as the successful bidders to build the eastern Mediterranean island's first casino resort.
Energy, commerce and tourism minister Yiorgos Lakkotrypis said the Cypriot Cabinet gave its seal of approval for the licensing of the casino resort to the consortium, opening the way for the final signing of the contract.
"With this action, the Cabinet has today completed an ambitious effort which started about three years ago," Lakkotrypis said.
He added that a coordinating committee would oversee the work to ensure the contract conditions were met.
The cost of the project has been put at about 500 million euros (555 million U.S. dollars), including the cost of the land and the construction of the sea-side project near Limassol.
Officials said the casino would help bring an additional half a million tourists each year to Cyprus.
The casino concession will be valid for 30 years and will enjoy 15 years of exclusive operation, meaning the government will not grant another integrated casino resort license for that period.
The state will take 15 percent of gross income from gambling and an annual fee starting at 2.5 million euros for each year for the first four years, rising to 5 million euros per year for the next four years.
The plans provide for a casino and five-star accommodation with at least 500 rooms, 100 gaming tables, and 1,000 gaming machines.