The Cypriot government licenses online lotteries, betting exchanges, casino gaming, and sports betting.
In 2007, the Cypriot government began preparing a bill that would impose a stricter set of rules for the licensing of online gaming in their country. A previous bill had been submitted to Parliament in 2006, but it was soundly rejected by the parties involved.
Cyprus moved closer to banning online gambling when the Cabinet approved a draft bill in March 2011. The bill outlaws online games such as roulette, poker, and slot machines, but allows for licenses for sports betting outlets. It also provides for the creation of a gaming board that will regulate betting within Cyprus. To ensure that the government does not incur loss of tax revenue, the bill designates that licensed gambling venues on the island will be taxed at 3% of turnover instead of 10% on profits. And to show how serious the Cypriot government is about the ban, punitive measures are included, with fines of up to €170,000 or a five-year prison term or both.
Online gambling in Cyprus is making over €2.5 billion a year and is currently regulated by the Betting Law, which was amended in 2007 to comply with EU legislation for the free provision of services across borders.
July 9, 2012 – The Cypriot House of Representatives passed legislation that bans all online gambling and betting exchanges other than sports betting and lottery games offered by OPAP. Sports betting has been regulated with a revenue tax on all operators of 10%. Three percent of the tax revenues are to be distributed to the Gambling Board before additional distributions are made to the Cyprus Football Association of 1.5%; 0.5% to other sports associations; and the remainder going to programs fighting gambling addictions. The legislation also establishes a new Gambling Board.
Gaming operators who have been conducting online casino and betting exchange gaming are set to challenge the new betting law based on constitutional and European Union legal grounds.
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