For quite some time – almost seven years to be exact – the Cypriot government has been attempting to close a loophole regarding gambling. The loophole allows companies from EU member states to offer gaming in Cyprus via a number of different mediums including websites, betting shops, and cafes.
The legislation, which was last sent to the European Commission for approval last September, has struggled to make it through in every form that it’s taken. Opposition this time came from the UK and Malta who sent their grievances to the EC, thus upsetting the Cypriots who were confident it would go through in its current guise.
A lawyer from the Mediterranean island has now come out in opposition to the bill, with her main gripe that in her opinion “this bill affects intra-European Community trade, denies fundamental freedoms, prevents competition and contravenes recent European Court of Justice (ECJ) decisions.”
The blog post, published by eGaming Review, explains that the concession agreement with Greek monopoly operator OPAP is behind most of the attempts to push the bill through, as it will eliminate competition.
Olga Georgiades, of Lellos P Demetriades LLC, goes on to say that “certain absolute prohibitions on online gaming are not objectively justified:
• OPAP, a profit-making company acquired exclusive rights under non-transparent conditions to offer online games of chance, creating risk of addiction and excluding competition; it is not subject to money laundering-prevention rules. OPAP’s games are also prohibited by the 2010 bill, but this is overlooked
• There is no risk of fraud by EU-licensed companies because they are subject to specific monitoring procedures in their home member states
• Cyprus constantly seeks to make more profit from lotteries, horse racing and other gaming”
Georgiades finished off by explaining that if Cyprus adopts a law against the EC’s opinions they will be subject to huge fines, which for Cyprus would be very damaging.
Anything with this type of monopolistic involvement isn’t something that we look particularly favorably upon and it would be a big surprise were they to go through with their plans minus EC approval.