The beginning of the week saw the head of the National Betting Authority of Cyprus address local Members of Parliament, sharing that last year’s betting activity in the country saw a 22% increase in comparison to 2021, reaching €959 million. At the time she made the announcement, Ioanna Fiakkou was in Parliament to review the authority’s budget for the fiscal year 2023 with her fellow lawmakers.
Apart from everything else planned for the local gambling sector, a new proposal has been officially submitted to Cyprus’ Minister of Health this week. The proposal involves the establishment of a special screening program within the national health system that would be focused on the prevention and treatment of individuals who display early signs of problem gambling behavior.
In addition, Ms. Fiakkou revealed that the competent authorities have joined forces with Cyprus’ Ministries of Labor and Health for the release of a new nationwide “self-exclusion” program providing local gamblers with the chance to ban themselves from gambling and casino services available on the territory of the country.
The platform is set to list all welfare recipients, especially the ones that benefit from Guaranteed Minimum Income, so that they are automatically suspended from games of chance. Previously, local lawmakers have been informed of some tragic cases where recipients of Guaranteed Minimum Income and people receiving disability allowance spend all these funds to fuel their compulsive gambling.
Money Wagered in 2022 Acount for 3.55% of Cyprus’ Overall Gross Domestic Product
Ms. Fiakkou explained that in 2022, the €959 million placed as wagers at licensed betting shops across the territory of the island country corresponded to 3.55% of Cyprus’ gross domestic product (GDP). In comparison, only six years ago, in 2016, these bets corresponded to only 0.99% of the country’s gross domestic product.
Also, in 2022, the taxes collected by the country were estimated at €11.75 million. Only 2% of this amount are set to be granted to the Cyprus Sports Organization, and the various sports federations and the Cyprus Football Association are set to receive €3.525 million. As explained by Ioanna Fiakkou, 1% of the aforementioned taxes would remain in the National Betting Authority’s coffers, with the money planned to be used as funding for programs aimed at battling problem gambling.
It was officially revealed that once the budget of the country’s Betting Authority is finally approved, a contract for the establishment of a gambling addiction treatment program in the Famagusta district will be signed by the competent authorities.
Previously, the member of the Democratic Alignment (DIPA), Alekos Tryfonides MP, shared his concern with the manner in which oversight at local betting shops is currently exercised by private individuals that are hired by the country to do so. Mr. Tryfonides suggested that the checks should be carried out by full-time civil servants who would be supposed to report to superiors. In turn, the boss of the National Betting Authority informed local Members of Parliament that the oversight exercised at licensed gambling and betting establishments across the country is aimed at eradicating corruption.