articles | 13 March 2013

Casinos could open in Cyprus within two years

Casinos on the island could be up and running within two years, getting the ball rolling on an issue the previous administration flatly refused to consider on ideological grounds.

Speaking in parliament, Commerce Minister Giorgos Lakkotrypis said he had already asked the Cyprus Tourism Organisation to update a 2007 study into the creation of casinos to help the government decide on the form they would take – whether they will be accompanied by other development. Asked if Cyprus could expect casinos in the next two years, the minister said “yes, this is what we hope.”

The previous administration had stubbornly refused to consider the opening of casinos on ideological grounds, with President Christofias consistently brushing off suggestions that Greek Cypriots would spend their money at casinos in the Republic as opposed to the north, which is currently the case. "There will be no casinos in Cyprus as long as I am President," Christofias said in 2009. Christofias said such establishments are an "expression of corruption and can create a crisis to the system. My party has struggled for years against any establishment of casinos, and there will be none while Christofias is president," he said.

Cypriots already spend millions on gambling – on illegal online games as well as casinos in the north. The CTO study into the creation of casinos predicted millions in revenues and a significant boost in employment opportunities. Christofias’ second finance minister Kikis Kazamias had proposed creating casinos around a year ago as part of a raft of growth-boosting measures. The proposal was shelved.

Citing the CTO study, the ministry said annual revenues for the state would be between €35 and €50 million. An estimated €6.0 million per year is also spent on gambling by Greek Cypriots in the north where casinos abound, the ministry said. It also suggested there was not enough scientific evidence to substantiate a connection between casinos and negative effects on society - pathological gambling is not just connected to casinos but all games of chance.

“Cyprus is a special case since even without casinos in the Republic, pathological gamblers exist as there is free access to casinos in the occupied areas,” the ministry saidat the time. “The current situation in Cyprus, where effectively every neighbourhood has two or three small casinos in the form of unregulated betting shops, makes the problem worse.”

Source: Cyprus Mail


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