Cyprus to ban online gambling
After many months of heated political debate and to-ing and fro-ing, the Cypriot Parliament passed a law on Friday (6 July) that will make it illegal for offshore operators to offer their online gambling product to players in Cyprus.
It’s an interesting move. While most of their Euro zone neighbors (eg Spain, Italy, Greece) are embracing licensed online gambling as a means of raising much needed revenues, Cyprus has decided on a different path. And it’s not like they don’t need the cash. Just last month they put their hand up for a bailout of up to 10 billion Euros…almost half of the entire GDP of the small Mediterranean Island nation.
Clearly the intent is to steer locals away from the likes of bet365, 888, Betfair etc and encourage them to frequent the Islands land based casinos or the one online offering that will be exempt from the ban due to a bilateral agreement between Greece & Cyprus – Greek gaming company OPAP. Failed attempts by other countries control player’s online choices would suggest this is a little optimistic…a fact not list on House Finance Committee chairman Nicolas Papadopoulos. He has openly admitted that the new law was unlikely to stop Cypriots from gambling online using offshore websites.
It’s also an interesting move because it does fly in the face of the EU’s single market approach to services provision. Betfair, who earned 4% of their revenues from Cyprus (the ban will include betting exchanges), have already condemned the legislation saying it has, “serious flaws and, in certain areas, is inconsistent with European Union law.” No doubt there’s a legal challenge and possible European Commission intervention on the way here!