The Greek-controlled southern part of Cyprus expects to see its first casino after the government announced it would grant a casino license within a year.
Greece’s half of the island has had a long-standing ban on gambling but continuous economic unrest has pressured the government to seek new ways to provide long-term financial gains and create new jobs for its citizens.
The Turkish-controlled north side of Cyprus has several casinos and scores of Greek Cypriots regularly go north to gamble. The south’s ruling conservatives are doing what their communist predecessors long opposed despite heavy interest from foreign casino operators.
Greek Cypriot government spokesperson Nicos Christodoulides highlighted some of the casino legislation’s pertinent details, including the stipulation that whoever wins the 30-year-casino license will have exclusivity rights for 15 years, the authority to decide the location of the casino site in the region and can operate 24 hours a day and seven days a week. The operator would be taxed 15 percent of gross income.
Finally, the proposed legislation and regulations provide for the implementation of all EU directives as it pertains to fighting money laundering.
“This will be one of the most important infrastructure projects in Cyprus in coming years,” Christodoulides said.
The bill will be fast-tracked by the government with an eye towards passing it into law by April 2015. “These procedures move forward at a fast pace and the aim of the government is to select and grant the license in less than a year,” Christodoulides added. As soon as the bill is passed, the government will immediately move to set up parameters on a two-stage bidding and selection process.