Thursday June 21, 2012 : ONLINE GAMBLING BANS IN CYPRUS SOON?
 
Legislators debate ban on all exchange and online betting
 
Legislators on the Mediterranean island of Cyprus, longtime haven for online gambling operators and processors, moved closer to a total ban on exchange and online betting Wednesday when the House Legal Affairs Committee progressed a measure that has been causing controversy for the last year.
 
Green party deputy Giorgos Perdikis said the bill impacted many interests, including the political world, and asserted that it would be a crime if decisions were not taken in the next 15 days since any delay would confirm claims of intertwined interests.
 
“People cannot distinguish who is involved and who is not; we’re all tarred with the same brush,” Perdikis said, referring to accusations and counter-accusations of corruption and allegations that the proposed law favours Greek state gambling group OPAP and is discriminatory.
 
Ruling AKEL MP Aristos Damianou protested, and suggested that Perdikis substantiate his claims and stopped playing the populist.
 
“The easiest thing is to be on the fringes of politics and throw stones,” Damianou said. “We challenge all those with evidence to submit it.”
 
Committee chairman Ionas Nicolaou rejected charges against him and members of the committee that the bill was being deliberately delayed. He said that any delays were due to the need to redefine articles in the bill.
 
“We would be held accountable if we allowed a law through that was full of loopholes,” Nicolaou said.
 
The House Finance Committee must now deliberate on the tax provisions before the bill, which specifically bans online casino games, exchange betting and betting on dog races, is sent for a vote.
 
The measure exempts OPAP from its provisions because the company operates under a bilateral agreement between Greece – its base – and Cyprus.