Cyprus Bans Gambling Operators
The Cyprus government’s recent backlash on internet gambling might give the Greek state company OPAP a monopoly, many island politicians said this week. Cyprus hosts a large number of internet casinos, asa result of its politicians’ strong stance toward internet gambling might favour the Greek company handsomely.
Rikkos Erotokritou from Euroko Party said OPAP, which manages Joker, Proto, Kino and Lotto and other online gambling operators would reap the benefits from the implementation of this bill’s requirements”, which could result in absolute control.
Nicholas Papadopoulos DIKO’s representative said, the bill would “benefit and legalise gambling for one internet casino only resulting in a monopoly.” He also stated that in 2009 OPAP generated 70 million Euros, of which one million Euros went to the state in taxes; it could be a very lucrative arrangement for the internet casino’s ventures in Cyprus.
On the flip side of the coin, OPAP’s response to recent political statements appeared in a newspaper advertisement, it claimed that OPOAP paid out in cash prizes 117,081,295 Euros to Cypriots. Nonetheless, they did not indicate the amount of cash Cypriots wager at internet casinos on average.
Attorney-general Petros Clerides, came out in strong support of OPAP, he claims that OPAP is a legitimate operator, which operates under an interstate agreement, stating that OPAP’s games is not a breeding ground for “criminal activities” like internet gambling, whose ban combats fraud and money laundering.
The European Commission (EC) welcomed this proposal, but according to those opposing the bill should the bill be passed will regulate internet gambling and significantly boost state revenue.
“Online gambling sites made their appearance because of certain loop-holes within the law and many feel that it’s controlled by organized crime. Should it be legalized and controlled by the government, maybe this move would eradicate all criminal activities,” the Cyprus Mail editorial stated the following:
“To effectively ban internet gambling won’t stop it altogether, it will simply go underground controlled by the mafia, to be honest gamblers won’t have any protection whatsoever. Law makers should bear this in mind when they finally vote on the bill,” the editor concluded.