CYPRUS AUTHORITIES TURNING UP THE HEAT ON INTERNET GAMBLING
National Betting Authority reports that around 2,500 illegal gambling websites are currently being ISP-blocked.
The authorities in Cyprus are tightening online gambling counter measures; a parliamentary finance committee was assured this week by the National Betting Authority, which reported to lawmakers that it is in the process of ISP-blocking some 2,500 websites offering illegal online gambling to Cypriots.
Monday's hearing of the House committee focused on a series of bills on betting and games of chance, the newspaper Cyprus Mail reports, with legislators discussing the review of the interstate agreement with Greece which gives betting group OPAP a monopoly on lottery number games in Cyprus.
The Cyprus auditor-general claims that the government loses just under Euro 1 million a month under the current agreement, through which OPAP pays Euro 10 million in Cyprus taxation; the AG claims that the island state is losing out on potential additional tax revenues of Euro 10 million a year, which would be possible if it withdrew from the agreement with Greece.
In May 2014, Cyprus moved to withdraw from the agreement, requesting a year to prepare legalization regulating the lottery market. However, the Cypriots subsequently reversed this decision and scrapped the draft legalization, but are apparently now reconsidering the government position.
New draft legalization has been drawn up and presented to the House, providing for exclusive rights to be granted to a single provider to operate specific ‘lottery games’ in Cyprus for a specific period of time and under clearly defined conditions.
The successful applicant for this license would pay the Cyprus government 24 percent tax on gross profits or Euro 20 million a year, whichever is the greater (the current tax levied on OPAP in Greece is 30 percent).
The National Betting Authority also briefed MPs on progress toward a regulated and licensed online sports betting regime, reporting that last month it began accepting license applications and has warned unlicensed and illegal operators that they will be blacklisted and blocked if they continue to provide services to Cypriot online sports punters.