Thursday, November 17, 2011 : Island government considering draconian new law
Regardless of criticism from the European Commission, the government of Cyprus appears hell-bent on introducing draconian new measures against online gambling operators – surprising in a state that has long been a haven for the genre.
The Cyprus Mail reported Thursday that a new law is being discussed by government and parliament which could see offenders – especially operators – facing up to 10 years in jail and fines up to Euro 500,000.
"The main target of the law is online casino gambling, which has proliferated of late, generating millions in income for the providers," the newspaper reveals, quoting the chairman of the House Legal Affairs Committee who said the law will include strict penalties for offenders, while internet service providers (ISPs) would be obliged to block sites offering the illegal service.
“There will be a continuous war to locate these webpages that will be placed on a register,” MP Ionas Nicolaou told the newspaper. "Penalties will depend on the offence; those offering the illegal activity face up to 10 years in jail and up to Euro 500,000 in fines."
It appears that the anti-online gambling drive will extend to players, too. If caught either at home or elsewhere gambling online, punters will be liable to fines of up to Euro 170 000, or five years in jail, according to Nicolaou.
The law also provides strict sentences for licensed land establishments which violate their permits.
The bill’s text will be finalised in cooperation with the state legal service, Nicolaou said. Parliamentary debate on the measure is scheduled to continue until Monday.
Cyprus's last attempt at outlawing online gambling fell foul of the European Commission, which issued an adverse opinion on the Mediterranean island's proposals as being non-compliant with EU law.