Cyprus is home to a large number of legal online gambling companies that have brought prosperity to this island nation in the Mediterranean Sea.
In 2008, the turnover generated by Internet gambling in Cyprus reached an incredible €2.5 billion with analysts predicting that by 2012 that figure will rise to more than €5 billion. A local newspaper on the island has quoted the House Legal Affairs Committee chairman, Ionas Nicolaou as saying that 95% of the electronic gambling services located in his country are operating perfectly legally. This is because their services are provided via the Internet and no authority exists where a permit can be applied for.
At present, the Cyprus government refuses to allow real casinos to operate on ideological as well as ethical grounds, despite there being an explosion of Internet related gambling establishments that do operate legally through servers that are based in other European Union countries, such as Malta.
A study recently carried out by Global Betting and Gambling, who are online gambling consultants revealed that the 2008 turnover was €2.5 billion. Of the three largest online gambling service providers on the island has a market share of 30 percent and in 2007 turned over €680 million.
in Cyprus, online gambling currently falls under the jurisdiction of the Betting Law, which was amended in 2007 in order to comply with the specific EU legislation which caters for the freedom of service provision between EU members. However, tighter legislation in this area is under discussion as some lawmakers seek to further amend the law with the insertion of a clause designed to exclude Internet gambling from the current list of acceptable EU services. The main reason for this is cited by politicians as the protection of Cypriot society.
This will not affect individuals who play Internet games from their homes as they are not breaking any laws. It is aimed at the operators who make huge amounts of money from the services they provide. Nicolaou said that estimates show operators in Cyprus made gross profits of €400 million in 2008. This is expected to skyrocket over the next few years. There was one instance where just fifteen computers generated a profit of €93k in only two weeks of coming online.
Overall the survey provides an interesting insight into the gambling habits of the nation in times of financial hardship, where instead of a decrease in gambling through lack of disposable income, people are actually gambling more. This is perhaps explained by the irrational desire to win enough through gambling to ride out the economic storm, despite the harsh realities that so often end up with the opposite result.