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Online Gambling blocked from Cyprus

February 20, 2013

Online Gambling blocked from Cyprus

Yesterday, Tuesday February 19th, all access to almost all online gambling sites was blocked by the internet providers in Cyprus on authority of the National Betting Authority. Read the announcement here (through Google translate).

It does come as a natural effect of the Cypriot Betting Act 2012, which in the fall of 2012 also saw many betting shops and similar venues offering access to online gaming services close.

Message from Cyprus online gambling block

The message many people met yesterday

The announcement from the National Betting Authority doesn’t mention, which sites should be blocked but only mentions that the list of websites, which has already been given to providers is not exhaustive and will be constant monitoring and updating. However, according to CalvinAyre.com, a total of 270 domains has been blocked.

At this time none of the affected companies seems to have made any public statement about the issue, although Betfair, whose share prices suffered immediately with a 5% plummet after the new Cypriot gambling regulation was revealed, has previously suggested that they would react to the gambling legislation:

The company believes the legislation contains serious flaws and, in certain areas, is inconsistent with European Union law.

 Betfair…will be taking all necessary steps to reduce the impact on profitability through both legal action and cost management.
Source

Betfair, which ended up filing an EC complaint over the Cyprus gambling legislation (and other companies like Tipico, William Hill etc.) was involved in land based betting shops and venues that offered in-venue access to online casino games prior to the closing of land based betting shops in the fall as the first effect of the new Cypriot gambling legislation.

Other and more local effects of the gambling legislation (besides closing local betting shops) included burning down 4 OPAP outlets and attempts to the same on three others

Not everybody is sad

However, one company that will like the development is the Greek monopoly OPAP (and probably the Greek government that are part owners), which is in the middle of a privatization process – allegedly as part of the Troika bailout to Greece.

OPAP currently has a de facto monopoly on all sports betting and lotteries in Cyprus, although two land based betting licensees was awarded to Intralot and Stanleybet recently. Furthermore OPAP is currently allowed to offer it’s services in Cyprus on a tax free basis due to an agreement between Cyprus and Greece.

It has also been indirectly suggested that the primary reason, OPAP currently has a special position on the Cypriot Gambling market is because of it’s ”special” relationship with local politicians – At least if you take the quote from a Member of Parliament, that he “couldn’t be bought by anyone” literally.

Besides favoring OPAP, rumors are that this is the first step towards allowing further land based gambling activities in the country, which should include licenses to build regular casinos. That would definitely also present a welcome splash of cash into the country’s economy, which these days must be envying the house hold economy of Donald Duck.

Future of the monopoly?

As for now, we’ll just have to wait and see what happens. There’s probably not much doubt that the one-sided favoritism of OPAP is against EC regulations and it will be even more odd, when OPAP will be fully privatized and Cyprus at that time will be close to giving monopoly to a private company from another country.

One can understand the reasoning behind eg. The Danish governments protection of the monopoly of the national Danish supplier, as well as the way the Finnish government seeks to enhance the national monopoly, but allowing a foreign company to operate tax free with a monopoly status, does seem a little odd and makes you think what the reasons behind that might be.

 At the moment however, you’ll need to find some way of circumvent the ISP-blocking, if you still want to gamble online from Cyprus.

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7 Comments
  1. Alan Mc permalink

    Cyprus has no legal right to block internet gambling .As they permit gambling on the island in betting shops the argument cannot be an ethical one. Should a resident or in fact a visitor to the island wish to take part in there chosen sport via an account in another EU country to block access is illegal under EU law . It is for the individual to choose where and when and with whom he places his wager . Maybe a few words on the likes of trip adviser and other web sites might make the morons who devise the law think a bit before they block the freedom of individuals .

  2. Thanks for the comment Alan. I’m afraid it’s slightly more complicated than that. As they do offer local licenses to a few companies (eg. stanleybet & Mega bet for brick and mortar betting shops), there might be a case that they are allowed to block sites that are offering online gambling to Cypriots illegally.

  3. Good Morning, i am a tempory visitor to cyprus, we brought our laptops with us as we play a gamesite called POGO, we have a yr subscription with them and it was blocked by the network yesterday, it is not a gambleing site unless you are a resident of America, if whoever blocked it read the agreement we signed stating we can not win cash prizes due to the fact of different Tax Laws, we are not children we play adult games for fun not for cash,is there a way around it, can seeus going to a different country next yr because of it…..

    • Issa Nasser permalink

      We are Cyprus permanent residents and long term users of Pogo.com; which is a free site to millions of people; and has no gambling activity. We were surprised like you for not being able to access Pogo and many other FREE Gaming Sites like GamesDesire.

      This is really stupid; they need to investigate better before taking such stupid action.

    • June Burton permalink

      Pogo has been blocked for the last two days I also pay a subscription which you pay so you don’t have advertisements, it is not a gambling site hope we get it back so we can play the games.

  4. Issa Nasser permalink

    I contacted Cablenet my ISP, and they advised me that we need to contact the National Betting Authority and advise them that Pogo is not a Gambling Site and is Free to all members.

    Let us all write to them, and ask them to check well these sites and lift the ban immediately.

  5. Issa Nasser permalink

    I wrote to the National Betting Authority, they listed the good news is POGO IS BACK.

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