Last month, the Cypriot government announced their intentions to ban online gambling in the country. Since then, officials have been working hard towards achieving this goal, but many remain unsure about how effective the efforts will be.
A draft of proposed changes to Cypriot gambling laws is already being reviewed by the European Commission (EC), and a decision is expected on Wednesday, December 15. The problem is that the government is not sure if EU will approve their plan to wipe out internet gambling.
Getting the EC to support the ban will involve some serious arguing since the general rule of thumb is that EU nations cannot prevent foreign operators from offering online gambling services to their citizens without good reason.
Attorney General Petros Clerides explains: “We need to convince the European Commission that the ban is in the public interest and that it adheres to the principle of proportionality, as under the EU directive you cannot, except under certain circumstances, prohibit the provision of services from one EU member state to another.”
One potential stumbling block for the proposed legal changes involves what the EU might view as an “inconsistency” in the nation’s drive to eliminate internet gambling. While the new law forbids internet poker and online casinos in Cyprus, it still allows online sports betting to take place, so long as it is offered by local licensed outlets. If the online gambling ban is truly being implemented to “combat criminality and to protect the consumer” as Clerides insists, then why is online betting still permitted?
Officials are pushing to ban internet gambling in Cyprus by the 2011 elections, but nobody is sure if this timetable is reasonable. If the EC’s decision on Wednesday is not favorable, however, an appeal could set this timetable back several years.