By Constantinos Psillides

A COMPANY that specialises in the training of casino dealers or ‘croupiers’ is advertising its courses in Cyprus, even though the government has not yet legalised gambling or issued the first casino licence.

Cerus Casino Academy (CCA) Cyprus, a member of the Cerus group based in Manchester, England, is advertising its training courses via Facebook sponsored ads.

The company urges interested parties to attend a 10-week seminar in Manchester on casino dealing, noting in the ad that this could be an answer to rising unemployment and financial uncertainty. The company boasts a 100% employment record claiming that people who attend the course would have an advantage when casinos start operating in Cyprus.

Vrachimis Mpoulos, a representative of the Cyprus branch of CCA, told the Cyprus Mail that although the company just started advertising, people have already shown interest in taking the training course. “Three people have so far joined our programme. We believe that this is the right moment for those Cypriots who want to gain experience in the jobs that will follow”, Mpoulos said, adding that the company has been operating for 11 years and has offices in five EU countries.

The academy representative expects that granting casino licences will result in hundreds of jobs, including dealers, inspectors, pit-bosses and managers.

A high ranking police source told the Cyprus Mail that at a first glance there is nothing illegal in advertising the training courses.

“If the training takes place in England and not in Cyprus, we can’t do anything about it. It’s like any other educational institute. They are free to advertise as long as they don’t proceed with training casino dealers in Cyprus. Apart from that, they are free to do what they want”, the police official said, adding that the police is ready to investigate if they receive any complaints regarding the activity of the academy.

OSAKA — The Japanese city of Osaka plans to invite operators to build a casino on a plot of reclaimed land on Osaka Bay, its governor told Reuters, beating Tokyo in the race to attract global gaming firms to set up the country's first gambling resort.

Yumeshima, with about 170 hectares (420 acres) of land available for development, is likely to be designated as the preferred site for a casino when Osaka officials meet on April 22 to discuss the issue, Governor Ichiro Matsui said in an interview.

Tokyo, the other city most likely to host a casino, has yet to officially name a site for a development, although the Odaiba area in Tokyo Bay is being touted as the preferred location. Tokyo Governor Yoichi Masuzoe has yet to say whether he supports a casino in the capital.

“It's about time that as a city we narrow down the candidate sites,” Matsui said as Japan's parliament prepares to debate a bill that would start the process of legalizing casino gambling in Japan.

“We have reached the point where we need to start accepting proposals,” he added.

Brokerage CLSA predicts Japan could become the world's third-biggest gambling market, with annual revenue exceeding $40 billion.

Matsui, in office since 2011, is a member of the Japan Restoration Party, which has so far supported the casino bill.

Proponents of the initial bill expect debate to start in May, and aim to pass it before the house adjourns in June.

This initial bill would then be followed by a second bill in 2015 cementing concrete laws on how the licenses are selected and the resorts regulated. Supporters say casinos could be in operation by the time Tokyo stages the summer 2020 Olympic Games, boosting leisure industry spending.

Some casino operators and industry analysts say Tokyo may be wary of building a casino at the same time as it prepares to host the Olympics.

Global and Asian gaming companies including Las Vegas Sands Corp, MGM Resorts International, Wynn Resorts Ltd and Malaysia's Genting Bhd have courted officials in both Osaka and Tokyo ahead of the initial bill.

Japan is widely viewed as a prize market for casino operators due to its wealthy population and proximity to China, home to some of the world's most prolific, and richest, gamblers.

Matsui said he would like to see a unique casino complex in Osaka that features local elements such as the region's renowned cuisine. While Yumeshima has lots of space for hotels, convention centers and entertainment and gaming facilities, the city has yet to expand rail services in the area.

Matsui believes casino operators will invest more than 500 billion yen ($4.91 billion) in an integrated resort in the city, adding that he was visited last week by Lawrence Ho, chief executive of Melco Crown Entertainment.

Melco has said it would cost at least $5 billion to develop a Japan casino complex.

Operators are also expected to carry some of the infrastructure costs, but the details will be ironed out after the city receives official proposals.

“That will be for the negotiations,” Matsui said, referring to the breakdown of costs. “Right now we have many companies that want to make proposals. I'd like to see those first.”