July 4, 2017 by Ella McDonald

Macau-based casino operator Melco International Development Ltd has announced that it is withdrawing from the licensing process for a casino near Barcelona, Spain. Melco International was one of the casino operators participating in the bidding process for developing casinos inside an upcoming tourism complex in Catalonia province now named as the Leisure and Tourism Complex of Vila-Seca and Salou.

In a statement Melco International said

Melco International has decided not to participate in the current bidding process owing to other committed development projects in the pipeline.

The complex proposes to have an entertainment area that will include two casinos each occupying around 30,000 sq. m. Other casino operators in the running are the Hard Rock International and a joint venture between Group Peralada and Genting Bhd. The companies were expected to submit their bids by June 30.

Melco International released a statement and confirmed that it was dropping out of the process. The company also expressed its thanks to the government for the support provided through the bidding process. Melco said that it was looking forward to working in the future with the Catalan government and other local partners with respect to another suitable project. The licensing process has been delayed significantly with the conceptual plan for the complex undergoing drastic change. Initially six casinos were planned in a Las Vegas Strip- style format but after protests it was brought down to just two casinos, bringing the total space under gaming to 4 percent. The province of Catalonia currently has four casinos and the two new ones will bring the total to six.

Headed by casino tycoon Lawrence Ho Yau Lung, Melco International has made international expansion a key priority. Apart from Macau, the company currently has operations in the Philippines and Russia. Melco International also recently announced that a consortium of which it is a major party has won the license to develop a casino in the Republic of Cyprus, which will be the country’s sole gaming facility.

Proposed to be built in the coastal city of Limassol with a budget of EUR500 million ($559 million), the project will feature a gaming area with 136 gambling tables and 1,200 gambling machines as well as other amenities like a luxury hotel with 500 rooms and a 500-seater concert hall.

The other major international market of focus for Melco International is Japan which recently opened up its gambling market. Ho has previous asserted that the company was ready to make significant investments in order to have a presence in the lucrative Japanese gaming market.