Gaming regulators in the Republic of Cyprus continue their slow rollout of online sports betting licenses nearly six months after imposing their new online regulatory scheme last November.
On Monday, the National Betting Authority (NBA) confirmed the issuance of two new official online betting licenses to Paddy Power Betfair’s Betfair brand and to Meridian Gaming (CY) Ltd, which operates via the Meridianbet.com.cy domain in Cyprus.
The two licensees join UK online betting mainstays Bet365’s Cyprus subsidiary, as well as Bet On Alfa Ltd and Gambling Malta Ltd’s Stoiximan brand, as the only other operators currently granted full authorization by the NBA to offer online betting services to Cypriot punters.
The NBA issued eight transitional online betting licenses last November to companies including GVC Holdings’ betting brand Sportingbet and the Tain-powered Winmasters brand. That move followed just one month after the NBA began accepting applications for the new online licenses.
At the same time, the NBA announced that it was blocking around 2,500 gambling domains that had yet to be granted approval to operate locally. Most of these domains featured online casino and poker betting, which remain expressly forbidden under the country’s 2012 gambling legislation.
Under the new licensing regime, approved online sports betting operators pay an effective tax of 13% of gaming revenue – 10% in direct tax, plus 2% to Cypriot sporting bodies and a further 1% to fund responsible gambling initiatives. Licensees also pay annual fees of €30k, although the NBA offers a two-year license for €45k. Operators must also demonstrate guaranteed capital reserves of €500k to be considered worthy of licensing.
The NBA has yet to issue a license to the local operations of Greek betting and lottery operator OPAP, reflecting the current frosty relationship between OPAP and the Cypriot government. Earlier this month, the Cypriot attorney general ordered a police investigation into OPAP’s local operations after the company refused to turn over its financial records so the government could see if it was being screwed over as badly as it suspects.