Cyprus is a breath-taking corner of paradise that attracts not only tourists but also businessmen. This picturesque island nestled in the Mediterranean Sea has been a major gambling hub for more than 40 years, replenishing public treasury with over $600 million a year. Particularly in Northern Cyprus, there are prestigious casinos successfully operating within the hotels.
What makes this Mediterranean destination so appealing to gamblers and what are the prospects of casino business on Cyprus? We've got you covered with answers in our material.
How It All Started Out
As we know from history, the situation on Cyprus island has been a rather complicated one. For many years, the island was passed from one ruler to another. At the close of the 20th century, its Northern part was occupied by the Turks and proclaimed as the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. The south, fortunately, went to the indigenous inhabitants (Cypriots and Greeks) and is still considered a separate state.
The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) is defined as the centre of gambling business in Cyprus. The local economic situation is fairly stable and beneficial since it is directly linked to the financial system of Turkey. As the gambling is officially banned in Turkey, the Turks go gambling on Cyprus. They go there to get away from the hustle and bustle, play casino, roulette or slot games, as well as to start their own gambling business. Moreover, the ongoing flow of European tourists only contributes to the development of the industry.
In Northern Cyprus, there are 30 casinos working around the clock and offering various gambling to match every taste and pocket. Here you can find grand-scale gambling establishments with luxury suites, as well as moderate-size clubs designed for the average gamblers. Let's look at some of the most outstanding casinos of Northern Cyprus.
The most famous and popular place among the genuine gambling enthusiasts. To start the game, the visitor must buy chips at least €5 000 worth.
It is a large hotel and entertainment complex of 3,000 sq. m. designed in the Ancient Greek style, that attracts tourists with its incredible architecture, a wide variety of games and interactive shows.
The casino ranks third in the list of the most popular gambling houses in Northern Cyprus and literally charms the visitors with impeccable service and a loyal attitude to each player. However, the venue has strict rules for responsible drinking and a strict dress code.
There is a completely different situation in the southern part of the island. As Cyprus is believed to be the birthplace of St. Spiridon, the famous figure in the Orthodox religion, the Greek Orthodox Church has enormous influence in Cyprus. Owing to this, gambling was strictly prohibited there. Even the incumbent at that time President Demetris Christofias said that during his reign, no casino would operate in the country.
However, the financial crisis being experienced during the 2012-2013 by Cypriots has moved the authorities to review the gambling situation within the country.
Despite the negative attitude of the Church towards the gambling, the Parliament of the Republic of Cyprus, headed by President Nicos Anastasiades, made the decision to legalise gambling, and thereby to improve the economic level of the state.
- Gambling license has a 30-year lifespan. You need to submit a formal application for a license to the Cyprus Casino Gaming Commission (CGC). If successful, the company is allowed to open a casino and run it for 30 years.
- In addition to the cost of the license itself, the gambling business owner is obliged to pay different annual fees to the government: €2.5 million in the first 4 years of operation and €5 million - in the following years. All fees are regulated by the CGC.
- The casino owner has to pay a monthly 15% tax on gross gambling revenue (net of payouts to players). The profits generated by the casino are not applied with any other taxes, but the revenue from restaurants and bars within the casino are subject to regular VAT taxation.
- If approved by the government, the licensee can operate one major establishment with a maximum of four smaller satellite casinos. The main requirement for the casino resort is to house a five-star 500 bedroom hotel. The allowable limit of gambling equipment in place – 100 gaming tables and 1,000 slot machines. However, if the investor wants to exceed this standard, he/she will have to agree to details with the government of Cyprus.
- The main casino and its satellites shall be solely located on the private territory and to start working not later than 2 years after the approval of the authorities.
Besides, the gambling bill has specific requirements for visitors to gambling houses. So, before going to the casino players have to provide a complete information on their income to confirm financial independence and the ability to pay for their gambling activities. Although, the local casino business is mostly aimed at Europeans, rather than at the Cypriots. According to the forecasts of the authorities, 30% of casino visitors will be the Russian tourists, the gross gambling revenue will amount €50 million a year.
The government of Northern Cyprus do not support the legalization of gambling in the South part of the island, as this greatly increases the competition between republics and may have a negative impact on gambling business in the TRNC. In addition, the concerns of the government can be justified by the fact that Southern Cyprus has always been supported by other countries while the North always counts on Turkey assistance and its own resources.
In spite of all obstacles, the opening of gambling establishments is to take place in the South. The main investor in the project is the company Melco International Development. It plans to build a casino-resort, City of Dreams Mediterranean, that becomes operational in 2021. However, in June 2018, the gambling fans can try their luck at the temporary casino facility in Limassol.
Cyprus Online Gambling
Talking about online gambling, online casinos are prohibited in Cyprus. The government has long opposed online gambling and has no plans to allow the services of online casinos in Cyprus.
International online casinos that operate illegally are to be suspended. However, the authorities plan to create special conditions for bookmakers to legally operate on Cyprus island.
As we have seen, the situation with gambling in Cyprus is quite ambiguous. In the Northern part of the island, land-based casinos thrive and attract new tourists. There are many gambling establishments for every taste: from small to large casinos with lavish suites.
In the Southern part, gambling began to develop only after the adoption of the new law and are now under the strict control of the authorities. However, legalization of gambling business there is definitely the right move by the government.
According to analysts of Slotegrator, it will allow the republic to increase the flow of tourists from different countries to stabilize the economic situation on the island and contribute to its further development. In addition, with the legalization of casinos in Cyprus, the government is committed to providing the residents of the island with new professional opportunities and thus, to reduce the country's high unemployment rate.
The Cypriot authorities suggest that during the first year of legal operation of City of Dreams Mediterranean could bring the state a good income – from €600 million to €800 million. And it promises to significantly increase the chances to overcome the economic crisis and take the state to the next level.