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Cyprus Publishes Draft of New Casino Law

- September 24, 2014 By Oliver Young -

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One casino resort and a five-star hotel approved

A month after the news that Cyprus would legalize casinos within a year, the southern part of Cyprus controlled by the Greek regulators published a new casino draft law. The Ministry of Energy, Commerce, Industry and Tourism published the content of the draft online in the hope to generate comments before it is sent to the House of Representatives for approval. Those that want to comment can do so until midnight October 19, 2014.

According to the draft, only one resort casino will be allowed including a hotel with five stars and at least 500 rooms. The gambling floor in the casino will offer at least 100 gaming tables as well as 1,000 gaming machines. If the casino operator wants to offer more tables or machines, it must request an approval from the newly formed Cyprus Gaming and Casino Supervision Authority (CGC).

Furthermore, smoking will be allowed on the casino floor and qualified customers will be offered casino credits. Also, junket operators will be permitted but first they must be registered with the new authority.

15% Tax on Gross Revenue on Monthly Basis

Government regulators will impose a 15% tax on gross gaming revenue on monthly basis which will not be subject to VAT, but this does not apply to non-gaming revenue. The chosen casino operator will get a 30 year license with 15 years of exclusivity, but the initial fee of the license is up to be determined by the Cyprus Gaming and Casino Supervision Authority.

Annual fees, on the other hand, will be €2.5 million in the first four years and they will go up to €5 million between the fourth and eighth year. The fee for the subsequent years also has yet to be determined by the authority. If any infractions occur, the government will impose fines ranging between €100k and €1 million. There will also be prison terms of up to three years for more serious offences.

The Casino Operator Will Pick the Location

Furthermore, the government said that it will allow the successful casino applicant to choose the location where it wants to build the facility sparing the government regulators from having to pick a winner. Still, they plan to oversee the construction of the resort at least partially in order to avoid local councils from prolonging the construction process.

The successful casino applicant will also be allowed to build four smaller off-side gaming facilities outside the location where the resort will be built. These facilities cannot offer table games and there will offer only 50 gaming machines in each facility. The casino operator will be the only one to operate these facilities and cannot sell the rights to run these premises to anyone else.

Last but not least, government regulators are planning to narrow down the list of casino applicants to three and then continue with more detailed examinations. They also believe that the new casino draft can be passed into law by April next year and award the license in one of the subsequent months.

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