Cyprus looks to introducing online gambling laws

CYPRIOTS gambled more than £28 million over the internet in 2006, according to figures presented to the House Institutions Committee of Cyprus, by credit card company JCC. Other estimations believe the figure is closer to £1.5 billion.

Cyprus, which has been an EU member since May 2004, is currently preparing a bill that would offer some control over the problem gambling, especially amongst youths. A bill was submitted to Parliament last year, but it was strenuously rejected by most parties involved, especially by betting agency OPAP.

A spokeswoman for the Cyprus Legal Services, Nicoletta Charalambidou, said “According to a 2007 European Directive, any restriction on internet betting is prohibited as it affects the freedom of the market”.

She continued, “Other countries attempts to impose stricter laws on internet gambling were rejected by the EU as it was considered an infringement on the freedom to supply services. As things stand today, it is very difficult to restrict online gaming, due to the European law. The line is set very high by the EU on which restrictions can be imposed when it comes to the free market.”

The implementation of a similar system to that of Switzerland, whereby the government approves certain betting sites, which will clearly state the restrictions, protection, and tax that gamblers have to pay, has been suggested.

The aim is to prevent underage children from participating, but top of the list for the Cypriot Government – it will stop the state from suffering in lost taxes.

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