Cyprus Looking to Ban Online Gambling

29 November 2010

Legalizing online gambling has been a constant battle not only in the United States but also in countries around the world. Within the U.S., states like Florida and California have taken a hard look at intrastate online gambling laws and recently New Jersey has become the first state to have such a bill pass a Congressional vote.

Outside the United States you hear reports of countries for and against legalized online gambling making laws in an effort to take advantage of gambling revenue or to ban online gambling depending on what side of the line you are on. Cyprus, it seems is on the side of banning most online gambling.

Cyprus has sent a bill to the European Commission that aims to ban online games like roulette, poker, and slot machines, but will allow sports betting outlets to apply for a license. According to Attorney-general Petros Clerides, an answer from the Commission is expected by December and the bill is expected to pass the Cypress parliament immediately thus banning online gambling by the end of this year.

EU law prohibits countries from restricting services from one EU member to another and why the EU permission is needed. According to Clerides;

“We need to convince the European Commission that the ban is in the public interest and that it adheres to the principle of proportionality, as under the EU acquis you cannot, except under certain circumstances, prohibit the provision of services from one EU member state to another.

“We also argue that the ban is intended to combat criminality and to protect the consumer. I think we will be persuasive.”

Combat criminality is close to the same argument Portugal used to get its ban on online gambling. To back up this claim police spokesman Michalis Katsounotos has commented that:

“The police have repeatedly underlined – publicly in fact – that online gambling is the originating cause of many crimes – whether these involve loan sharking, or threats, or blackmail or even taking people hostage illegally. We have pointed out these dangers in various memos that have been submitted to the relevant authorities.”

The EU is expected to give their decision on the matter by December 15th and if the reply to the request is positive, Cyprus is ready to pass this into law by the end of December.

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