Is Europe’s Casino Industry Ready to Embrace the Integrated Resort Model?

The integrated resort model has become the standard in Las Vegas, Macau, and other countries in the Asia-Pacific region that annually see large inflow of international visitors. However, even though Europe might be the leader and the main driver of growth within the regulated online gambling space, it is lagging behind in the successful deployment of the integrated resort model and the construction of large-scale resorts that, aside from gambling venues, include accommodation, food and beverage, meeting, and entertainment facilities.
On the other hand, it seems that this might change soon, as at least three large-scale properties are to be built in South Europe in the next few years, all aiming to draw high roller gambling customers, particularly from the Asia-Pacific region and other corners of the world known to be inhabited by high-spending members of the global population. With that said, it seems that while most European countries are focused on creating well-regulated and well-functioning digital gambling markets, some of them might be ready to finally embrace the integrated resort model in a manner similar to Macau and Las Vegas and reap the benefits of offering diverse offering within the limits of a large property located in an attractive enough destination.
Integrated Resort Projects in Europe
City of Dreams Mediterranean is slated to become Europe’s first full-blown integrated resort combining casino gambling, meeting, entertainment, accommodation, and food and beverage facilities in one place. The €550-million integrated resort is currently under development in the city of Limassol in the Republic of Cyprus. It will feature the tiny island nation’s first legal casino after it has battled and is still battling underground gambling operations used by criminal individuals to mask other illegal activities.
The City of Dreams Mediterranean complex is being developed and will be managed by Hong Kong gaming and hospitality giant Melco Resorts & Entertainment and a local partner, known to be a subsidiary of Cypriot holding CNS Group. The property will feature 500 hotel rooms, suites, and villas, 11 restaurants and bars, 1,200 square meters of retail area, 7,500 square meters of gaming space with 1,200 slot machines and 140 gaming tables, a 3,000-square-meter expo center, and 9,600 square meters of convention, meeting, and event space, among other facilities.
The property is expected to open doors in 2021 and to attract 300,000 international tourists to the Republic of Cyprus. Owners have also said that City of Dreams Mediterranean will look to combat the issue of seasonality as the tiny island nation is looking for means and ways to drive tourists not only during the summer months but all year round.
The southern part of Europe traditionally has warmer climate and more sunny and hot days, which is a perfect condition for attracting visitors from different parts of the world throughout the year. Aside from Cyprus, there are two more European countries that are looking to take advantage of the weather and other favorable conditions by adopting the integrated resort model.
As part of its privatization drive, Greece is looking to transform the long-abandoned former Ellinikon International Airport near Athens into an €8-billion integrated resort that, among other things, will feature a €1-billion casino. Preliminary discussions are currently taking place between the Greek Gaming Commission and companies interested to operate the gaming portion of the complex. And it is also important to note that some of the world’s largest gaming and hospitality companies, including Melco, Hard Rock International, and Caesars Entertainment Corp., have lodged interest in the major development scheme.
It is expected that the bidding process for the gaming license is to be finally launched later this fall after years of delays.
Last but not least, Florida’s Hard Rock International was selected earlier this year as the winning bidder for the development of a 745,000-square-meter integrated resort in Spain’s Tarragona province. The company has put a €2-billion price tag to its newest development. The property will operate as Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tarragona and will be developed over several phases, the first of which will see a €700-million investment and will feature a casino with 1,200 slot machines, 100 table games, 1,100 hotel rooms in two hotels, retail space, and a number of other facilities. The whole grand scheme is expected to be carried out in five years. Hard Rock is yet to break ground on the project.
Final Thoughts
Integrated resorts have proved particularly successful endeavors in Las Vegas and Macau, and have major contribution to the formation of the modern land-based casino industry. Companies have been expanding their integrated resort footprint across Asia for more than a decade now and properties of this kind have proved to be extremely popular with different groups of customers, but mostly with high roller gamblers from Mainland China.
It seems that developers might be ready to explore new territories and Europe might be ready to catch up with Las Vegas and Asia and finally embrace the multi-purpose complex model that could help it further boost its tourism industry and draw wealthy and big-spending clientele from the Asia-Pacific region. City of Dreams Mediterranean will be Europe’s experimental venture into the integrated resort model and this particular resort’s future performance will play instrumental role in the further recreation of this model on European soil.
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