By Stefanos Evripidou
THE CYPRUS Tourism Organisation (CTO) will have its final report on the creation of casinos in Cyprus ready by next week, it transpired yesterday.
Commerce Minister Giorgos Lakkotrypis yesterday met with CTO director-general Marios Hannides at the ministry to discuss a draft version of the study undertaken by the tourism organisation on the establishment of casinos in the government-controlled areas.
However, according to sources, the final study still needs some tweaking and clarifications, and won’t be ready until next Tuesday.
Lakkotrypis said he planned to discuss the matter with President Nicos Anastasiades.
Speaking in parliament last March, the minister said the government hopes to have casinos up and running inside two years.
The previous administration under Demetris Christofias had flatly refused to consider the creation of casinos on ideological grounds, consistently brushing off suggestions that Greek Cypriots could spend their money at casinos in the Republic as opposed to doing so in the occupied north, which is currently the case.
“There will be no casinos in Cyprus as long as I am President,” Christofias said in 2009.
In 2012, Christofias’ second finance minister Kikis Kazamias had proposed creating casinos, as part of a raft of growth-boosting measures, but the proposal was shelved.
On coming to power, the present government asked the CTO to update a 2007 study into the creation of casinos to help the government decide on the form they would take – whether they will be accompanied by other development projects.
Cypriots already spend millions on gambling – on illegal online games, unregulated betting shops and casinos in the north. Greek Cypriots spend an estimated €6m a year on casinos in the north.
The original CTO study into developing casinos in the government-controlled areas predicted annual revenues for the state of between €35 and €50 million, as well as a significant boost in employment opportunities.