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Cyprus politician blames Malta and UK for delayed internet gambling ban

The vociferous Democratic Rally Party (DISY) deputy Ionas Nicolaou had some harsh words for Malta and the United Kingdom this week, accusing the two countries of purposely trying to derail Cyprus' attempt to ban online gambling.

Clearly displeased at the news that a three month hiatus has occurred to enable EU consultation on the proposed legislation, the local politician told Cyprus Mail: "The interventions and comments by Malta and the United Kingdom were made purposely as online gaming is licensed in both countries and they receive huge amounts of money for those licenses."

Nicolaou is chairman of the House Legal Affairs Committee, and was commenting on the latest developments. The island government drafted the new law and sent it to the European Commission for approval in September, confident that it would be approved in time for implementation in the new year. However, the Commission has since advised that it will take at least another three months to finalise the issue.

In a statement the Cyprus Ministry of Finance said that it now needs to clarify some points on the draft and that the EU will delay any further decision or comments until March 14. The Ministry revealed that United Kingdom representatives at the EU had also submitted an opinion on the Cyprus draft, as had Malta.

Nicolaou says he remains confident that Cyprus would be able to eventually pass the online gaming law: "From the observations, we see that we can regulate online betting and ban online gambling or casinos," he told the newspaper, revealing that the EU's main queries centred on whether the government is trying to ban online casinos because they consider them substitutes for traditional live casinos.

"The governing party must be careful because the EU will only allow any regulation or ban according to the EU treaty and EU law and not because of our government's views on traditional casinos," Nicolaou said.

The EU has also asked for clarification on how customers would be paying for regulated online gaming, why the numbers of licensees included in the draft are so limited and clarification on some provisions which appear to be discriminatory among providers of these internet services.

Commenting on the latest development, Cyprus-based online gambling operator Henrik Witt warned that the banning law could have adverse consequences for Cyprus, prompting some operators to leave and exposing online gamblers to the dangers of playing with less reputable offshore operators.

Source: InfoPowa News

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