The House of Representatives in Cyprus passed a controversial law that prohibits residents from accessing online casino games and exchange betting. A ten per cent levy on revenues from all operators has also been implemented on sports betting.
The bill on sports betting made it through the Congress’ Legal Affairs Committee last week. This happened before having to face a full parliamentary vote on Friday. It proved to be successful though because it gained a majority of votes from the members.
A new Gambling Board was also established through this legislation. The new Board will receive three per cent of the tax revenues from gambling. They are set to receive this even before it becomes parceled to the Sports Federation. The country’s Football Association is to receive 1.5 per cent of the subtotal and with 0.5 per cent of the subtotal going to various sports associations. The remainder of the money will go to programs dedicated to fight gambling problems.
Speaker of the House of Representatives Yiannakis Omirou immediately called on the government to shut down illegal online sports betting operations after the law was passed. He also described these illegal games as “cancer” on society.
The bill was first proposed last year, but had failed because lawmakers had a struggle in working out the final details. Passing it also took time after the coalition government of the left-wing Progressive Party of Working People and the centrist Democratic Party produced by last year’s general election fell apart. But the hopes are higher now that Cyprus will begin with its new legislation to regulate games and collect income from it before this year ends.
Betfair, a known betting exchange operator, is thinking of challenging the legality of the new law. They’re saying that the law contains “serious flaws and, in certain areas, is inconsistent with European Union Law”. Betfair has consulted their advisors to understand the implications of the law on their business. They said they will be taking all necessary steps to lower the impact on profitability through legal action and management of their finances. It’s said that Cyprus contributes to 4 per cent of Betfair’s group revenues last year. That was around £9 million of profit.