The State of Gambling in CyprusAugust 11, 2017 1:49 pm
While the Republic of Cyprus has traditionally banned gambling on the popular Eastern Mediterranean island, in 2016 the regulatory framework laid down by the Cypriot government a few years earlier offered its first online licenses to sports betting operators such as Bet365.com, and Betfair.com. Nevertheless, online casinos continue to be against the law, with as many as 2,725 domains added to its blacklist as of August 7, 2017.
For the first quarter of 2017, the island’s five licensed sports betting operators subsequently generated €3,466,230 in revenue, although more companies have since obtained iGambling licenses. These businesses have been attracted to Cyprus on account of its relatively low tax rate of 10% on revenue, compared to many other European markets where tax rates can be as high as 35%. On the down side, however, the National Betting Authority has come under criticism for issuing its licenses at a snail’s pace, which has potentially demotivated other gambling firms from applying for licenses themselves.
Meanwhile, Cyprus approved a bill in 2015 to allow the country’s first ever integrated casino resort to be built, with the project expected to be completed at the end of 2019, or start of 2020. Following a tendering process, the contract was eventually won by Hong Kong-listed Melco, which together with local Cypriot partner CNS Group, will spend around €500-million building a high-end hotel and casino resort in the southern coast city of Limassol, as well as a smaller casino in the inland capital Nicosia.
The Republic of Cyprus has an economy that was worth $19.8 billion in 2016, with the government estimating its casino gambling industry to add a further $67 million in taxes each year. Additional benefits also include the creation of 4,000 more permanent jobs on the island, and a strengthening of its position as a world-class destination for tourist and investments.
Cyprus was invaded by mainland Turkey in 1974, which currently controls 37% of the island in a break away statelet called the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. The entity is not recognized by any other country apart from Turkey, which maintains a contingent of 40,000 troops on the island.