Government Casino Approval Sparks Controversy at Ercan Airport

North Cyprus News - Casino - Poker Table

Following the release of official documents by Republican Turkish Party MP Sami Özuslu, which disclosed that the UBP-YDP-DP government had granted permission to T&T, the company which operates Ercan Airport, to establish a hotel with a casino within the airport, the concerned parties provided statements to Yeniduzen. They highlighted that the proposed area is unsuitable for a 538-bed hotel and that the current legislation does not allow for such permission.

Republican Turkish Party MP Sami Özuslu, speaking to Yeniduzen noted that the hotel project in question is planned to be five stories high with a capacity of 538 beds. He indicated that the government’s aim is to amend the current law to allow for a casino in the hotel.

Observers in the casino and hotel sector have said that under current laws a new casino licence cannot be granted. Further, it would not be profitable to build a hotel on this site.

Minister of Public Works and Transportation, Erhan Arıklı, also spoke to Yeniduzen, stating that the hotel was initially discussed as a boutique establishment but later discussions suggested a larger scale. Arıklı mentioned that 48% of T&T’s revenue goes to the treasury and said, “Up until now, there has been no mention of a casino in the proposed hotel. The operator continuously presents various proposals for the airport, such as a fairground, university, general aviation section, and large conference hall, all of which we approve positively. We have no intention of hindering any investment by the operator..

Meanwhile, Vice President of the Casino Operators Association (CİB), Ayhan Sarıçiçek, said that this enterprise would fail. He emphasised that even if all conditions of the Gambling Act are met, casino permission cannot be granted. He explained, “There is no quota. When the law passed in 2009, it stated that permission would be granted for five projects, and those five permissions have already been issued“.

Sarıçiçek also said, “If there is a legal amendment to the law, this permission can be granted”, adding, “If a new casino licence is to be issued, it should come with new, stricter, and more extensive criteria“.

Dimağ Çağıner, President of the Hoteliers Association, stated, “No investor would build a 350-room hotel just for a casino; they would know it would be unprofitable“. He further added, “Constructing a 350-room hotel under 50,000 m2 is not feasible. This represents an investment of 120 million dollars“.

Çağıner concluded, “I see the likelihood of a hotel with a casino in that area as low. These are substantial costs. Therefore, I do not believe that such a hotel system would be very practical in that location“.


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