By Angelos Anastasiou
Regulations for the operation of a casino in Cyprus will be taken to Thursday’s plenary session, with a view to awarding the single licence by September and having it up and running within two years, it was decided on Tuesday.
The regulations were discussed in a joint session of the House Finance and Commerce committees, and all parliamentary parties backed them, with the exception of main opposition AKEL, which said it will decide at the plenum.
Last July, parliament passed a law allowing for the operation of a single casino-resort, along with four ‘satellite’ casinos by the same operator.
Three of the four satellite casinos will feature only gaming machines, while the fourth one will also boast gaming tables.
Commerce committee chairman Zacharias Zachariou said the regulations introduce “very strict rules protecting the public”.
He added that approval of the regulations will enable the government to inform the top three shortlisted bidders, so that negotiations can start with them. The goal is for negotiation to conclude by September.
Zachariou pointed out that the law includes a deadline for when the project needs to go live, while the operator may expedite construction to start operations ahead of the deadline.
A casino in Cyprus will enrich the island’s tourist product and create jobs, he added.
Deputy Finance committee chairman Angelos Votsis said everything is in place for the regulations to be taken to the plenum.
The grand project, Votsis said, among other things will end the support of illegal casinos in the occupied areas.
According to the provisions of the draft regulations, the Gaming Authority will conduct strict inspections of the casino operator. Both the operator and all employees at the casino will be required to provide the authority with their fingerprints.
The regulations also stipulate that advertising should be truthful and promote the casino-resort as an integrated development, and not just the games offered.
Further, advertising should not encourage gambling, take advantage of the public’s vulnerabilities or claim to be a way out for professional or personal problems, such as financial worries, loneliness or depression.