Police after Illegal Online Casino Operation in Cyprus
Posted on November 30, 2010 by John Trevors for Luckyroom.com
It seems that the land based online gaming industry in Cyprus is going through its last days as the Cypriot government shows more than ever determined to fight every form of land based facility offering access to online gaming services by wagering with cash payment at underground tellers said to be used for money laundering.
Cyprus is an Island located in the Mediterranean which has wisely managed to attract a number of online gaming companies offering online gaming solutions for bingo online, casino and poker in addition to an extreme number of forex operators which are licensed and regulated on the Island mainly due to its well organized corporate banking and its low corporate tax incentives which together with its impressive climate and its European character manage to keep the Island amongst the top 3 destinations for remotely operated businesses including online gaming and online forex trading services together with Malta and Gibraltar.
Although the country welcomes and embraces corporation of such offshore businesses; locals seem to have found a window of opportunity to operate illegal land based gambling facilities which accept cash wagers from customers in exchange for credit on a computer connected to the internet which is remotely offering access to casino games including blackjack, roulette and bingo. Owners of these shops have been running their so called businesses for more than 2 years now and have stood on the fact that since Cyprus is a member of the EU and the software they are using is licensed in the EU they are not breaking any law. The police suspect that investigation of the whole operation will reveal one mastermind which seems to have had connections with the online gaming industry and has been offering shop owners the opportunity to take advantage of his plan under a lifetime commission of earnings.
After an extensive research conducted by the authorities after numerous complaints by players and customers of these gambling shops which seem to have lost fortunes playing casino games it has been revealed that the vast majority of these non licensed so called internet cafes have been using underground tweaked software systems developed in Bulgaria and Romania which had been developed specially for these shops with the framework for a master user to be able to credit players accounts after he has received the funding in cash at a teller which did not provide any sort of receipt which could clarify the Gross Revenue of any of these establishments; any cases in which licensed software was found on a PC it was used as the showcase to avoid police search.
Operators seem to have been paying the companies located in Bulgaria large amounts of money which were wired through Cypriot banks abroad for development of software and got their software tweaked to literally never pay the player back making it a very, very nasty form of gambling in which owners got rid of black money while they got it paid back in black cash which they could use to perform any business action they liked without being under the microscope of the Cypriot Tax revenue system.
With new statements by the Minister of Justice and Public Order Luke Lucas allthe Cypriot community will get targeted by police and as the authorities will come after companies in order to stop non regulated electronic gambling. The whole matter will be comprehensively dealt with in small quarters, everywhere, and even in villages where opportunists have opened small shops offering gambling to villagers..
The first sweep against the so called online gaming establishments took place in Larnaca, said the spokesman of the Police and it is the first of many which will follow. With the new legislation we had requested extra ‘weapons’ for the police such as the closure of these premises until the trial of cases that have been found using illegal non EU licensed software programs .
He refused however to comment on the reasons that President Demetris Christofias is opposed to the creation of a regulated land based casino and whether there will be a change in tactics on the issue.
The whole affair seems to be curtailed following the recommendations of the Attorney General and the competent prosecutor Petros Clerides gave the green light ‘to the police for’ closing ‘ all gambling houses and business serving electronic casino. Please note finally that the proposed bill to ban online gambling (except sports betting) has been approved by the Cyprus government and is expected to be examined by the competent European Commission to decide on the ratification or not.
The whole fiasco has been a major strike for the licensed online gaming community as companies offering regulated gaming services and addressing Greek speaking countries have seen their players vanish for the past two years due to their migration to land based online gaming shops. It was a clear point we had raised with representatives of Dragonfish and Casino848 when members of our team met up with them in Athens to discuss the reasons Casino 848 had not been well accepted by Cypriots although it had been widely accepted by Greeks. The following days the Cypriot police will make its further announcement on the matter.
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