Cyprus just recently joined the list of European countries regulating online gambling. Until 2012 the online gambling in Cyprus was illegal and active measures were taken in order to prohibit interactive wagering. However, parliament of the country passed the Betting Law in 2012, providing legislative framework for issuance of a Cyprus gaming license.
The following laws apply:
(a) Betting Law of 2012 – (L. 106(I)/2012, as amended):
- Regulates land-based and online sports and other betting.
- Created the National Betting Authority.
(b) The Taxation of Horseracing Bets and Sweepstakes Law 1973 (L. 48/1973):
- Regulates horse racing in Cyprus, its provision by the Nicosia Race Club (and its representatives) and its taxation.
(c) Lottery Act (Cap. 74):
- Regulates lotteries, bingo and skilled competitions.
- With the exception of small-scale lotteries/bingo, which are a secondary event in a context of other non-profitable/charitable/festive events and private (for members of an organisation or association) lotteries/bingo, which are allowed under specific conditions, only the state is allowed to perform lotteries.
(d) The Agreement between the Hellenic Republic and the Republic of Cyprus regarding the games offered by OPAP (Ratification) Law of 2003 (L. 34(III)/2003).
(e) Certain Games of Chance Law of 2018 (L. 52(I)/2018):
- Certain games of chance were introduced in 2003 under a state-granted monopoly to OPAP through the bilateral agreement between the Hellenic Republic and the Republic of Cyprus [ratified by L. 34(III)/2003 above under (d)]. The Certain Games of Chance Act is the new framework under which these games are offered, under a single licence, with the National Betting Authority as the new regulator.
(f) The Casino Operations and Control Law 2015 – (L. 124(I)/2015):
- Regulates state-granted monopolies for casino games.
- Licence valid overall for 30 years, while for the first 15 years it will be an exclusive concession.
- Created the Cyprus National Gaming and Casino Supervision Commission.
(g) Games Machines, Skill Machines and Entertainment Machines Law of 1996 (L. 32(I)/1996):
- Prohibits the provision of any game of chance, betting, gambling, lottery, bingo, etc. through machines.
“The Betting Law” imposes 2 types of licenses:
- Class A – Manages offline sports betting – this applies only to the bookmakers with real offices, except horse racing or other services regulated under the class B license.
- Class B – Manages online activities, except slot machines and casinos lotteries.
Each company that wants to obtain A or B license has to meet the following requirements:
- Cyprus stocks availability;
- Foreign registration;
- Presence of a division of a foreign company in Cyprus with a primary activity in betting. Partnership with a local company is also permissible. The minimal share capital of a foreign or local business is EUR 500,000;
- Cyprus or other EU bank warranty for at least EUR 550,000. The warranty should expire in 6 months after obtaining the license;
- Sufficient resources for players payments;
- Acceptable accounting system for the chosen service;
- Compliance with the “Betting law of 2012” in part of players protection.
The applicant can get a license only for 1 or for 2 years. After expiration, it is possible to apply for a renewal. The National Betting Agency reserves a right to revoke the license at any time, if its owner violates current law (Article 24)
The license is issue only after fee payment, which depends on the license duration:
- EUR 30,000 for 1 year license;
- EUR 45,000 for 2 years.
The Class B license should be paid only via debit card / credit card / any other electronic payment. Cash payment is forbidden. (Article 58(1)).
After receiving the class B license, the licensee must open an account in a Cyprus bank or other institution that is allowed to provide banking services in Cyprus. Class B licensees have to analyze a player’s current account before accepting his bet. If there are no enough funds to pay the rate, a licensee has to reject the bet.
A combined rate of 13%, which consist of 10% of net revenue, 2% assigned to the Cyprus sport Federations and 1% for extra gambling programmers (Article 71).
All the data should be stored exclusively on a Cyprus server data system. The server/data center has to be connected to the government electronic system in order to pass the data on transactions. An address of the website which accepts players bets has to be ended with LTD of “.com.cy”.