A bill that would make Internet gambling in Cyprus illegal has stalled in parliament, due to violation of European Commission requirements. House Legal Affairs Committee chairman Ionas Nicolaou stated that though the goal had been to finalize the bill and send it to the EC before July 1, “a new problem which no one expected” has come up.
This problem was the lack of public consultation on the specifics of the bill and an impact study on the results of any proposed legislation, two processes required for EC approval. The House Legal Affairs Committee has now requested the state to complete the needed consultations within 15 days.
The bill would essentially make Internet gambling in Cyprus illegal, outside of horse race wagering and betting on sports in Cyprus. Nicolaou explained that, in order to deal with “the phenomena of uncontrollable online gambling (in Cyprus), the aim of the proposed law is to ban online casinos in our country altogether.”
The question of support for regulation and taxation of Cypriot poker rooms and casinos online is reportedly divided neatly down ideological lines. Cyprus’ majority party AKEL, including president Demetris Christofias, continue to insist on making all Internet gambling illegal. Opposition interests offer a familiar and valid counterargument: that introduction of regulation could bring in much-needed revenue to the government, reduce unemployment and eliminate the undesired “gray economy” in Cyprus.
Nicolaou has stated that the entire Cyprus online gambling market had a €2.5 billion turnover in 2008, with gross profit at €400 million, and that an unnamed gaming provider turned over €680 in 2007. Nicolaou has also forecast turnover of €5 billion and gross profit of nearly €1 billion by 2012.