Could Cyprus be the next new hot spot for gamblers? It’s possible. Over the last few years, local lawmakers in Cyprus have been trying to come up with new gambling regulations. The lawmakers are hopeful that regulations will help expand land-based casino operations as well as an online gambling industry within the tiny island nation.
Back in 2012, the Cyprus government approved new framework that would open a local Internet gaming market for licensed sports betting sites. However, casino games and other forms of betting were banned under the new regulations.
Last October, though, Cyprus’ National Betting Authority began to accept licensing applications from those interested in operating a sports betting site. A month later, the Authority began to issue licenses to approved operators. Bet365 became the first online gambling site to enter the Cyprus market on an official basis.
The Cyprus National Betting Authority also announced in November that it would reject more than 2,500 domains belonging to unlicensed operators within the country. By August 7 of this year, more than 2,725 domain names had been blacklisted.
The National Betting Authority reported that licensed sports betting operators within Cyprus had generated more than €3,466,000 during the first three months of 2017. At the time, there were five licensed operators serving local customers. Three additional licenses have been granted since then. Each license is good for two years before it needs to be renewed.
Sports betting operators within Cyprus are taxed 10 percent on revenue. That’s a pretty favorable rate, especially given the tax rate on operators in other European countries. Some countries have a tax rate up to 35 percent on revenues imposed by governing regulatory bodies. Portugal, for example, taxes sports betting operators on a percentage of their overall turnover.
As a result, Cyprus seems to be a fairly appealing market in which to operate. Bet365 and Betfair are a pair of big names that were attracted to open up shop in Cyprus, which figures to be a good sign of things to come. However, the country’s Authority has not exactly been swift about issuing gaming licenses, despite huge interest.
Last fall, a number of major casino operators submitted bids to build the first land-based casino in Cyprus. The bid was eventually won by Hard Rock International and Melco International Development. The group of investors officially received their license earlier this summer, which means construction is soon to follow.
However, Hard Rock quickly exited the agreement shortly thereafter in order to pursue other interests elsewhere.
Melco, along with CNS Group, will build the €500 million hotel and casino complex in Limassol, in addition to a smaller satellite facility in the capital of Nicosia. There will also be a trio of slot parlors in Larnaca, Famagusta, and Paphos. The main casino facility is expected to open in either late 2019 or early 2020. 4,000 permanent jobs will be generated as a result of the construction, and it will also serve as a means of boosting tourism in Cyprus.
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