articles | 28 March 2019

Casinos attract nearly half-a-million gamblers in six months

Around 470,000 people had visited the three casinos in the Republic by the end of January 2019, gambling away €210m, the Gaming and Casino Supervision Commission, said recently.

The commission told the House ethics committee that between June 2018 and January, €175m were returned to gamblers in the form of winnings while the operator made €35m, paying the state €5.25m in tax.

Commission chairman Christos Mavrellis said an additional €4m were paid to the state for licences.

The great majority of gamblers, 80%, were Cypriots, he said. 4% were Greeks and 11% other nationalities.

The three casinos in Limassol, Nicosia, and Larnaca airport, are staffed mostly by Cypriots, 70%, MPs heard.

The first casino opened in Limassol in June 2018, followed by Nicosia and Larnaca in December.

Responding to suggestions that the casinos have not attracted the expected number of tourists so far, Mavrellis said they expected 300,000 more tourists per year when the casino resort opens in Limassol in 2021. He said the commission has already received one application from a tour operator interested in bringing foreign gamblers to Cyprus. Mavrellis added he expected such requests to rise as the €550m project came closer to completion.

He rejected suggestions that gambling addictions were due to the casino, arguing that they can be blamed on other forms of gambling, which are widely accessible.

Mavrellis said the casino has prohibited entry to individuals whose gambling habit had affected their families, adding that staff monitored players at particular intervals according to the amounts of money they gambled.

MPs voiced concerns about the Nicosia venue being next to a university department and the potential effects it could have on students.

Mavrellis said the casino opened at 3pm, after the classes finished and all customers were over 21.

He said people under that age were not allowed in and based on current figures, 219 individuals had been turned away because they had no ID.

Mavrellis said he would personally look into a claim made by Akel MP Irini Charalambidou that she had seen two teenagers, 14 and 16, entering the establishment in Limassol.

He told the committee that the one in Nicosia appeared to have reduced the number of Greek Cypriot gamblers heading to casinos in the north.

Source: Cyprus Mail

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