articles | 22 April 2015

Casino license to be issued in early 2016

A bill governing the operation of casinos is expected to be put to the vote inside May 2015 and the license will be issued around nine months later, Energy and Commerce Minister Giorgos Lakkotrypis said recently.

“After voting the legislation we will give one month for those interested to be informed and then go to the bidding procedure,” Lakkotrypis said in parliament. “The documents are effectively ready.”

The bill was discussed by the House Commerce Committee and it was agreed that in the next couple of weeks MPs would go over any amendments before it went to the plenum for the vote. After approval, it would take eight to nine months for the license to be issued.

The bill provides for a casino of international standards, and a hotel or hotels exceeding the requirements for a five-star establishment under existing laws with at least 500 luxury rooms, at least 100 gaming tables and at least 1,000 gaming machines.

The operator will choose which district the resort would be located in.

State income will come from the signing bonus, the annual license, and taxes. Money will also be made from tourism. The annual licensing fee will be €2.5 million for the first four years and €5.0 million annually for the next four.

The operator will also pay a 15% tax on gross income.

The bill also has rules concerning the protection of minors and vulnerable groups of the population and the provision of assistance to those addicted to gambling.

AKEL reiterated its opposition to the project because it will lead to serious social problems.

MP Costas Costa said the party respected the position of the majority and to that end it participated in the discussion in a bid to introduce specific amendments to protect the social fibre.

“Today we suggested the creation of a fund with part of the state’s proceeds to tackle problems that could emerge,” Costa said.

His party will also seek to change the entrance criteria for Cypriot nationals “to prevent the financial destruction of families.”

AKEL’s administration, under Demetris Christofias, had flatly refused to consider the creation of casinos, consistently brushing off suggestions that Greek Cypriots could spend their money at gambling establishments in the Republic as opposed to the occupied north, which is currently the case.

On coming to power, the current government asked the tourism organisation (CTO) to updatea 2007 study into the creation of casinos to help them decide on the form they would take.

Source: Cyprus Mail

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