- 80% of gamblers were from Cyprus with 4% from Greece and 11% making up other nationalities
- 300,000 more tourists expected when Limassol casino resort opens in 2021
- Gamblers spent €210m (£180m; $236m) in six months at three casinos
Gamblers winnings amount to $196m
Three casinos are proving to be popular with local residents in Cyprus, as nearly 500,000 attended them in six months, MPs have been told.
Between June 2018 and January 2019, around 470,000 gamblers are reported to have entered and gambled at three casinos in Cyprus, according to Cyprus’ Gaming and Casino Supervision Committee, reports the Cyprus Mail.
During that time, gamblers spent €210m (£180m; $236m) while €175m (£150m; $197m) was returned to gamblers in winnings. The operator made €35m (£30m; $39m), with €5.25m (£4.5m; $6m) paid out by the company as state tax.
The first casino, Limassol, opened in 2018. It was followed by Nicosia and Larnaca casinos in December 2018. Staff at the casinos is made up mostly of local people, while about 80% of the gamblers are local residents. Four percent were Greeks and 11% were other nationalities.
Due to the low number of tourist gamblers, Christos Mavrellis, the Commission’s chair, was told by MPs that the casinos were not reaching the recommended number. However, Mavrellis said that 300,000 more tourists were expected each year once the Limassol casino resort was up and running in 2021.
Not only that, but the Commission has already been approached by a tour operator who is keen to attract more tourists to the region.
Casinos to blame for gambling addiction
During discussions, MPs raised concerns that the casinos were causing an increase in gambling-related issues in Cyprus.
However, Mavrellis disagreed with this, claiming that it could be down to other forms of gambling. In an attempt to prevent people from gambling more money than they can afford, Mavrellis explained that they stop entry to these individuals. In addition, he said staff also monitors gamblers based on the amount of money they were spending.
Those who do enter the casino are required to be over 21. So far, there have been 219 cases in which potential gamblers have been turned away due to a lack of ID.
In a bid to reduce the impact that problem gambling has on people’s lives, gamblers in the UK will have to pass new ID and age checks before they can bet under a new self-exclusion scheme for online addicts from May.
About 60,000 gamblers have signed up to Gamstop’s self-exclusion scheme. By law, gambling operators will have to remove the listed people to stop them from being tempted to gamble if they wish to retain their licenses.
Operators need to do more
For plenty of people, gambling is an innocent pastime, but it can quickly spiral out of control for many others. Problem gamblers can lose thousands, sometimes even millions, and the impact can have a detrimental effect on their personal relationships and lifestyle.
Because of this, many people are calling for more to be done.
Earlier this month, Ronnie Cowan, a Scottish National Party MP, said that the damage gambling firms cause is “tantamount to gross negligence.” He went on to say that they should take action against the problem and called for a statutory levy of 1%, which would bring in £140m ($107m) a year to help those in need.