Land-based casinos could soon be on their way to the southern European island of Cyprus, declared the Commerce Minister in Parliament on Monday. The new Cypriot government, elected last month, has a new ideology on casino gaming that could quickly develop a new market.
Newly appointed Minister of Commerce, Industry and Tourism, Giorgos Lakkotrypis explained that he has appointed the Cyprus Tourism Organisation (CTO) to update a 2007 study looking at the introduction of casino gaming in the country. Asked if Cyprus could expect casinos within two years, the minister avowed, “Yes, this is what we hope.”
This was the first time Lakkotrypis has expressed his views on the matter with MPs since assuming his duties, and he stressed the urgency of casinos. Parliamentarians and the Minister agreed to continue their cooperation and a progress report will be submitted every two months. Establishing a plan to roll out casinos would only be done once the all the relevant information has been presented, the Minister affirmed.
Since the Republic of Cyprus was granted independence from Britain in 1960, all forms of gambling other than sports betting have remained strictly outlawed in the island nation. Gaming operators caught on to a flaw in the anachronous legislation, which did not provide any stature online gaming and between 2002-2010, Cyprus witnessed a gradual development of gambling shops advertised as casino kiosks.
New gambling legislation was unanimously passed by the government in 2012 to clarify the law. It gave OPAP a monopoly over sports betting and placed an official ban on online casinos, poker, slots, exchange betting and gambling advertising. The administration had stubbornly refused to even look at the possibility of opening a casino sector as part of the legislation, giving the EU incentive to explore the issue.
Demetris Christofias, President of Cyprus at the time, said that casinos are an “expression of corruption and can create a crisis to the system. My party has struggled for years against any establishment of casinos, and there will be none while Christofias is President.” However, it is widely reported that Cypriots are already spending millions gambling on illegal online games and casinos in the north.
The CTO study conducted 6 years ago, estimated that over €6m per year is also being spent on gambling by Greek Cypriots in the country’s Turkish-controlled north. It projected that the creation of casinos could generate millions in revenues and a significant boost in employment opportunities.