Cyprus Commerce Ministry put forward a draft law allowing creation of an integrated casino resort.
Cyprus is an island divided not only in terms of who controls the Northern and the Southern part of it. Cypriot gambling laws are also different in Turkish and Greek parts. While all forms of gambling pastime are fully legal in the North, the Greek side is still to allow legal gambling in its part.
The economic collapse of 2013 has of course played a significant part in speeding up the government’s willingness to expedite the introduction of legal land-based and online casinos in Cyprus, but some obstacles still remain for people to legally gamble in the South.
Cyprus is preparing for an integrated casino resort after the Commerce Ministry put forward a draft law
• The proposed change to Cypriot gambling laws allows creation of a large casino
• The resort is to feature a luxurious hotel, over 100 tables, and over 1,000 machines
• Prospect operator will be able to select location for the resort
A brand new draft law was submitted by the Commerce Ministry this week. The proposal includes an integrated casino resort on the island featuring over 100 tables and over 1,000 slot machines. The Ministry is welcoming comments on the draft, published in both Greek and English, from all interested parties.
Describing the draft law, the Ministry outlined the following objectives: limit, control, and strictly regulate all casino gambling in Cyprus, fight any criminal activity connected to gambling, as well as redirect all prospect casino visitors away from “illegal and poorly regulated establishments”. Consumer protection especially that of minors, is another important priority of the proposed law.
Proposal for the integrated casino resort
The draft law sees the proposed casino resort as answering to the highest international standards. It will naturally include a hotel or several hotels exceeding five-star establishment requirements under existing laws. Besides over 100 tables and 1,000 gambling machines, the resort is to offer over 500 luxurious rooms to potential guests.
The operator to win the license for the casino, will be able to choose which district the resort will be erected in. This is widely regarded as a clever move on behalf of the government, which was under pressure from all districts to grant the resort license to them.
Moreover, the town to win the license for the casino resort will be exempt from applying their planning laws for the establishment. The construction of the casino will be directly governed and supervised by the Cabinet. This move is seen as an attempt to expedite the process, considering the usual slowness of such large projects through local bureaucracy.
The draft law provisions also stipulate that the prospect operator would also be able to open up to four other gambling premises, off-site from the resort, to include a maximum of 50 gaming machines each, but no casino tables.
These additional premises are to be located outside the winning district, but the operator will not be able to sell, rent out, or transfer them to anyone else. As for the integrated resort itself it will be able to stay open 24/7 and smoking ban will be lifted on the casino floor.
Other stipulations of the draft law
Unfortunately, lotteries, horseracing, online casinos, and online sportsbooks in Cyprus are not governed by the proposed law, and will have to be discussed and governed in the future.
No initial fee figure for the resort has been given so far. It will be determined as one of the parts for the initial offer for what is expected to be a 30-year license including a 15-year exclusivity term for the chosen operator.
As for the annual fee to the government, the first four years of operation will require EUR 2.5 million from the winning company. In years 4 to eight it will double to EUR 5 million per annum, and later on to be reviewed upwards by the Cyprus Gaming and Casino Supervision Authority (CGC).
Besides the license fee and the annual operation fee, the government is looking to collect up to 15 percent in casino tax, based on gross gaming revenue per month. The actual supply of gaming services, which is supposed to be defined by inland revenue, will be exempt from VAT, however, all other services rendered by the resort will be subject to VAT.
The law proposal also stipulates a selection of penalties for various infractions by both the casino operator and the customers. These penalties range from whopping EUR 100,000 for the smallest misbehaving to a nice EUR 1 million for the biggest one, and in some cases to even be accompanied by a prison sentence.
The laws also address moral concerns by saying that the casino resort “shall be truthful, tasteful, inoffensive, informational and responsible, does not promote casino gaming as an economic alternative, and has regard for the need to protect minors and other vulnerable persons from being harmed or exploited by casino gaming”.