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Many Firms Seek To Challenge Cyprus Gaming Ban

The Cyprus Mail newspaper on Tuesday reported that the recent ban of internet gambling by the Cyprus government already has several possible legal challenges being mounted against it.

One locally based company AA Crown Bet Ltd told the newspaper that one of its companies it oversees had to close sixteen of its shops that provide internet betting services and described the ban of internet gambling as "discriminatory, disproportionate and in violation of EU laws". The firm's representative then stated that his company may sue the Cyprus Republic based on the law's apparent contradiction to European Union laws.

Yiannos Georgiades from the Nicosia law firm Georgiades & Mylonas said that the law was in violation of another law that allows for movement of goods and services throughout Europe as part of a treaty.

“The government could regulate and tax these services like other countries do, for example, the UK, Ireland, Malta and Spain." said Georgiades.

“A member state cannot invoke the need to restrict its citizens’ access to gambling services if at the same time it incites and encourages them to participate in state lotteries, games of chance or betting which benefits the state’s finances."

Georgiades went on to reference European Court of Justice rulings that say that countries can restrict gambling to protect consumers, but that the limitations must be “consistent, fair and systematic”.

"A member state cannot invoke the need to restrict its citizens’ access to gambling services if at the same time it incites and encourages them to participate in state lotteries, games of chance or betting which benefits the state’s finances,” Georgiades said, quoting a European Court of Justice ruling.

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