The government hopes that the first casinos will begin their operation in Cyprus in two years and has asked the Cyprus Tourism Organization (CTO) to update the studies they have carried out in 2007, new Minister of Tourism George Lakkotrypis has said.

The Minister on Tuesday briefed the House Commerce Committee on all issues that are under the umbrella of his Ministry, such as natural gas reserves, tourism, renewable energy sources, consumer matters and electricity cost.

This was the first time the Minister had the chance to exchange views with the MPs since he assumed his duties. Parliamentarians and the Minister agreed to continue their cooperation and coordination and thus he will provide them with information every two months.

Speaking to the press, Lakkotrypes said that as far as the casino issue is concerned, the ministry must have before it all the information before making its final decision. He referred to the social dimension of the issue, replying to questions about the criteria of admission to the casino etc.

The Minister said that the issue of casinos is urgent and the government hopes that in two years the first casinos will be operating on the island.

As regards the request for free internet access, Lakkotrypes said that this is related to the creation of a technological park in Cyprus that will give the opportunity to big scale companies to start business.

Asked whether the procedures as regards natural gas reserves in Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone will speed up, he said the government has its priorities, is well aware of what needs to be done and this will be done the soonest.

Exploratory drilling by Houston-based “Noble Energy” in block 12 revealed a gross mean of 7 tcf. Noble is expected this year to proceed with an appraisal well which would indicate the exact amount of the natural gas reservoir of the initial well.

On January 24 Cyprus signed contracts with the ENI/KOGAS consortium for hydrocarbons exploration in blocks 2, 3 and 9 in the EEZ of Cyprus, while on February 6 it signed hydrocarbon exploration contacts with French TOTAL for blocks 10 and 11.

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