The government of Cyprus intends to ban online gambling in an attempt to reduce domestic crime. Cyprus became part of the EU in 2004, and although EU laws tend to work against online gambling monopolies and online gambling bans, the island nation intends to push forward and to argue their case with the European Commission.
Cyprus 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. It is intended to combat criminality and to protect the consumer.”
The plan is moving fast, and new Cypriot gambling laws could come into effect before the end of 2010. Cypriot officials are looking to Portugal for inspiration, a country which has successfully defended their right to control online gambling at a national level and to keep foreign competition at bay for the sake of social wellbeing.
“The police have repeatedly underlined – publicly in fact – that online gambling is the originating cause of many crimes – whether these involve loan sharking, or threats, or blackmail or even taking people hostage illegally. We have pointed out these dangers in various memos that have been submitted to the relevant authorities,” said police spokesman Michalis Katsounotos.
If the ban is implemented, it will forbid most forms of online gambling in the country. Only internet betting in Cyprus would remain legal. Tax bets at online sportsbooks would not be permitted – bettors would only be allowed to use credit cards or approved e-wallet services. This restriction would allow the government to keep better tabs on online bets for tax purposes.
The plan has already been submitted to the EC for approval, and a decision is expected as early as December 15. If the EC approves, then internet gambling in Cyprus will be illegal before the year is out.