Unanimous vote in parliament
It's now official – more than a year of debate on the matter was enough for Cyprus politicians to agree that online gambling and - despite a last minute attempt to have it excluded - betting exchanges should be banned.
Interestingly enough, while the measure sets tax levels, authorizes the introduction of a gambling board that will license and regulate legal gambling on the Mediterranean island and allows the tax on net betting revenues to be distributed to sports and anti-problem gambling organizations, it exempts Greek gaming company OPAP, as Greece and Cyprus have a bilateral agreement.
Of course, the exemption outraged many other parties, including local gangs, presumably involved with angry Cypriot operators.
However, according to MP and House Legal Affairs chairman Ionas Nicolaou, “From this day we are handing over to the prosecuting authorities and the state the tools to combat this phenomenon.” This call was also supported by House President Yiannakis Omirou, who urged law enforcement authorities to act as soon as possible against illegal operators.
On the other hand, it was stated by House Finance Committee chairman Nicolas Papadopoulos that the new law will not stop Cypriots from gambling online using offshore websites.