A magician who operated a mock casino at a Christmas event in Engomi Mall and was accused of running a betting operation was acquitted this week after a two-and-a-half-year court battle.
At the final hearing the judge said the prosecution should have done better research and maintained a dialogue with the suspect’s lawyer.
“It was totally unjustified,” said Joe Modestou, who has been in the party and wedding business in Cyprus for 25 years.
“Somebody who saw the event called the police and they came and confiscated my equipment,” he added.
The equipment, a roulette table, was not professional but purchased from a shop in Nicosia selling games for kids.
“I have worked in casinos in the UK and Athens and I know what professional equipment is”, Modestou said.
The entertainer has also performed for many big companies, not only in Cyprus but abroad, and the issue of illegal gambling was never raised by anybody
For this event he was hired by Debenhams. People who visited the shop got five chips to play at the table. Those who won 150 chips got a voucher for €5 which could only be used to buy an item from the shop and no money was involved at any time.
Modestou had to appear in court around 15 times, each time having to travel from Paphos to Nicosia. He also had to pay a lawyer, for which he was not compensated.
“It was only for about 10 minutes each time, as the police could never produce witnesses and the case was adjourned,” he explained.
After all this time Modestou doesn’t really want to sue the state for wasting his time and money, but he is thinking about it because of expenses, lost earnings and damage to his reputation.
Some people now think what he does is illegal, and he believes he has lost work because of the court case.
He didn’t even get his equipment back because the gaming table was destroyed in a fire that burned down a room full of evidence at the court in February.