The north’s ‘parliamentary’ finance, budget, and planning committee met on Monday with a view to amending its law regarding the opening and operating of casinos.

Casinos have, in recent years, become synonymous with the north, and it has been reported that the planned amendments to the current law will relax the regulations around their operations.

The committee is chaired by Resmiye Canaltay, the daughter of former Turkish Cypriot leader Dervish Eroglu. Monday’s meeting was attended by ‘government’ figures including ‘tourism minister’ Fikri Ataoglu and ‘finance minister’ Alisan San, and representatives of the north’s central bank and casino operators’ association alongside regular members.

According to committee member and social democratic party CTP ‘MP’ Devrim Barcin, the amendments being tabled on the committee amount to deregulation of the industry.

Among the changes reported by Barcin is a change in the law regarding the amount of casinos that can be opened in the north by a single company.

Currently, companies are only able to obtain permission to open and operate a maximum five casinos in the north outside of the ‘Bafra tourism investment zone’ in Vokolida. Barcin said a motion is being tabled to eliminate that regulation and allow companies to open and operate as many casinos as they wish.

In addition, hotels are currently required to have a minimum of 500 beds to be allowed to operate casinos. Barcin said the north’s ‘government’ is looking to have that number reduced to 300 for hotels located within marinas.

Furthermore, he claimed that the current regulation on where casinos can be built, which stipulates that they cannot be in urban centres, must take into account the existence of other casinos in the local areas, and can be no closer than 500 metres from schools, will not be applied in the ‘Karpaz tourism zone’ in Karpasia.

Another reported proposed change is to the duration of casino licences. The north currently awards casino licences for a total of three years, while Barcin says that is set to rise to 10 years.

Finally, the current law stipulates that casino operators must be tenants of the entire building in which they operate, but Barcin says that this is set to be changed and casino operators will be able to operate within buildings otherwise operated by other businesses.

The current number of casinos in the north is believed to be around 30.