Cyprus is on the cusp of banning all forms of internet gambling except sports betting and lottery, according to deputy government spokesman Mr. Christos Christofides. The Cyprus cabinet has already put its stamp of approval on a draft bill which would forbid all forms of online gambling.
The last step the bill needs before becoming law is legislative approval, and according to recent polls, there is ‘virtually no chance’ of the bill not receiving enough votes.
Under the draft bill, online poker, online blackjack, online roulette and online slot machines will be banned and any person caught gambling online will be subject to five years in prison or a $236,000 fine, or both. Sports betting and lotteries will be legal to all persons over the age of 18.
In a strange twist, the government is lowering the current 10% on legal sports betting and lottery establishments to 3% to lessen the chances of fraud or cheating.
Spokesman Christofides stated that ‘unclear Cyprian gambling laws caused online gambling to grow like a diseased mushroom’ turning the beautiful island into a ‘social wound.’
According to the latest gambling study, citizens of Cyprus spend €2.5 billion a year gambling online. When one reporter asked Mr. Christofides if he has gambled online in the past six months, the spokesman ignored the question.
Mr. Christofides stated that ‘the government sees no conflict of interest in forbidding traditional and online gambling, yet licensing lottery and businesses where residents can bet on sports in Cyprussportsbooks and lottery.’
A recent University of Sydney study showed that 50% of all compulsive gamblers in rehabilitation centers listed sports betting as the number one reason for their treatment.’