Island Nation of Cape Verde Rebounds in 2021 as Casino Revenue Jumps 122%

Posted on: February 4, 2022, 10:07h. 

Last updated on: February 4, 2022, 02:04h.

Cape Verde doesn’t have a very large casino market. In fact, the island nation in the Atlantic Ocean has just one casino. However, its revenue saw a huge year-on-year growth of 122% in 2021.

Cape Verde
Aerial view of Praia city in Santiago, Capital of Cape Verde. This is one of two areas that was expected to have a casino. However, only the casino in Sal is currently open. (Image: CNN)

COVID-19 forced Cape Verde to put the brakes on tourism, just like everywhere else. However, it was able to find new ground last year. The country’s gaming regulator reports that its gross gaming revenue (GGR) in 2021 was €1.06 million (US$1.21 million). That’s a significant improvement over the $547,000 a year earlier.

A small part of that stability can be attributed to the only casino currently active. It is located on the island of Sal, the country’s top tourist island.

In 2019, Cape Verde’s GGR was $1.68 million, so there’s still room for improvement. With relaxed travel restrictions starting to appear around the globe, 2022 could be an even better year.

Cape Verde is a group of 10 volcanic islands spanning a total of 1,557 square miles in the Atlantic Ocean. It belonged to Portugal until 1975, when it gained its independence. About 420 miles west of the westernmost point of the African continent, it has successfully developed its own economic stability since it became independent.

Cape Verde Looks to Become a Gaming Hub

There are two casino concessions issued in Cape Verde. One covers the Sal gaming zone and the other, the Santiago gaming zone. A total of five gaming zones have been designated in the country, with the other three in São Vicente, Boavista, and Maio. However, none has a casino.

The Ministry of Tourism has begun to develop plans for casinos and resorts as a way to build sustainable tourism in the country.

Gaming is a sector in which we want to continue to invest, respecting all international rules and good practices, because it attracts a type of customer that has a very reasonable purchasing power,” Carlos Santos, the Tourism Minister, explained two years ago.

The plan received a lot of attention and enthusiasm. Supporting it was a project that had been in the works, which would become the anchor of gaming across the entire archipelago. However, the future of that project is now in jeopardy.

Macau Legend Development Tied to Cape Verde

In 2015, Macau Legend Development (MLD) reached an agreement to build a large, $290-million casino resort in Praia, on Santiago Island. Construction began in 2016 with a simple groundbreaking ceremony. Since then, work has been sporadic, and the project is still incomplete. At the time, the resort had a target inauguration of 2019.

Now, with the recent arrest of Levo Chan, the project may face more delays. Chan was the head of the Tak Chun junket, as well as the CEO of MLD.

MLD’s board has stated that it’s “business as usual,” despite the Chan scandal. The company had originally made its arrangement with Cape Verde through its founder and cochair, David Chow. However, Chow has continued to reduce his stake in the company.

It’s still possible that Cape Verde can realize its dream of increasing its footprint in the global gaming market. For now, with no work being done on the MLD property, it has to rely on its Sal casino to recover lost ground.