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EC delays new Cyprus online betting framework

| By Stephen Carter
Cyprus' adoption of its revised regulatory framework for online betting stalled following EC and member state lodging opinions against draft.

Cyprus will have to wait to adopt its new regulatory framework for online betting after Malta and the EC lodged opinions against the draft during the period set aside for review of the proposed legislation.

Malta issuing a detailed opinion against the draft law during the statutory period set aside for other member states to consider whether or not the draft created barriers to free movement of goods and services in violation of the EU treaties, extending the standstill period to 29 December. 

The EU member state’s Betting Law of 2017 had been submitted to the EC on 28 June, and contained two amended pieces of legislation aimed at remedying several earlier infringements with the 2012 law identified by the EC, including one related to local ISPs' obligations in relation to blacklisting and website blocking.

Under the draft framework, licensed bookmakers would pay a tax of 10% on net revenue generated from punters in the country, plus a further levy of 1% of net revenue towards responsible gambling initiatives and 2% to support sporting organisations in the country.

Cypriot regulator the National Betting Authority (NBA) opened a window for betting operators to apply for licences from 3 October to 3 November last year. Bet365 is among the eight companies that have since received full Class B online betting licences.

GVC’s Sportingbet was also among eight entities issued with transitional licences last November.

The new draft proposes to relax the requirement that applicants must have a branch in the Republic in order to obtain a Class B licence.

Online casino and betting exchanges would remain prohibited as per the original 2012 law, with players violating the ban facing potential imprisonment for up to 12 months or a fine of up to €50,000, with bookmakers breaking the rules facing imprisonment for up to two years and fines of up to €100,000.

No detailed opinions from other member states or the EC have so far been received on an accompanying Code of Practice for the advertising of betting in the EU member state, including specific restrictions on broadcasting betting advertisements and direct marketing measures relating to betting, clearing the way for these to be adopted.

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