While there’s still no word from the European Commission on Cyprus’ proposed online gambling bill (which would ban all forms of online casino games while permitting sports betting), Cyprus isn’t letting the delay prevent it from making life difficult for online gamblers. With annual turnover from online gambling estimated at €2.5b, the nation’s police have handed tax authorities info gleaned from online operators to verify if gamblers are reporting their ill-gotten gains.
Police spokesman Michalis Katsounotos proclaimed that law enforcement would “intensify our actions either through campaigns in all districts or additional measures in a bid to stamp out the phenomenon.” Offering up an opposing view, Cyprus-based poker player Henrik Witt pointed out that the real problem lies with the retail betting shops that have sprung up on street corners everywhere, as they offer Cypriots credit, whereas “online sites don’t take credit and allow you to play more than you can spend… I don’t see what prohibition will achieve. It will only drill the industry underground.” Perhaps that’s why opposition MP Soteris Sampson recently referred to the government as being “mentally retarded.”
Another country looking to drive the online gaming industry underground is Slovenia. The country’s government recently adopted a sweeping ‘gaming development strategy’, primarily based around boosting their brick and mortar casino industry. In a bid to satisfy “the domestic gaming demand with the forms and kinds of gaming that bear the lowest possible risk for the development of problematic gambling and do not cause an outflow of money abroad.” As part of this strategy, the National Assembly has transferred the power to block unlicensed online betting sites from the state regulator to the courts. No word on whether any opposition Slovenian MPs think their government is developmentally challenged.