Cyprus Moves To Ban Online Gambling By End Of 2010

Cyprus has never had a high opinion of gambling and doesn’t even allow land based casinos to operate on the Eastern Mediterranean island.
However, the country became an EU member in 2004 and since becoming compliant with EU gambling regulations in 2007, its citizens have been wagering about €2.5 billion annually in ‘unlawful’ online gambling.
Despite EU law not permitting restrictions on the exchange of services between EU countries, Cyprus is now following in the footsteps of Portugal who successfully defended their own internet gambling ban in the European Court of Justice in 2009.
Then Portugal argued that its ban would help to reduce its domestic crime and now Cyprus, too, is claiming that a similar move is a necessary, with police spokesman Michalis Katsounotos commenting:
“The police have repeatedly underlined – publicly in fact – that online gambling is the originating cause of many crimes – whether these involve loan sharking, or threats, or blackmail or even taking people hostage illegally. We have pointed out these dangers in various memos that have been submitted to the relevant authorities.”
If Cyprus’ proposal goes ahead, then online sports betting would be permitted while internet games such as poker, roulette and slots would be completely banned.
In addition, the exclusive use of credit cards and e wallets would replace cash bets in order for the government to better monitor tax implications.
The European Commission is expected to reach a decision on the proposed ban by December 15th and if a positive reply is given then Cyprus says it will pass it into law before the end of 2010.
Commenting on the task ahead, Attorney General for Cyprus Petros Clerides, said:
“We need to convince the European Commission that the ban is in the public interest and that it adheres to the principle of proportionality. It is intended to combat criminality and to protect the consumer.”

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