Kostiantyn Prymak
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Online Betting Market of Cyprus: Dynamic Growth

Kostiantyn Prymak

The landscape of online betting in Cyprus has witnessed remarkable growth since licensed operations began in 2017, transforming it from only a picturesque Mediterranean destination to a fascinating hub for the online gambling industry, as well. Now Cyprus can be characterised by a unique blend of market dynamics and regulatory specifics. Today we will discover its’ online betting market, getting deeper into factors of its’ resilience and evolution

What about Laws

The gambling industry in Cyprus operates under a mosaic of legislation, with various forms of gaming subject to different laws and authorities. Each segment of the industry has its own set of regulations:

Casino Gaming: Governed by the 2015 Casino Law, casino gaming falls under the purview of the National Gaming and Casino Supervision Commission. Currently, land-based casino gaming enjoys a 15-year exclusivity period granted to a licensed consortium

Lotteries and Horse Racing: The Ministry of Finance directly regulates lotteries and horse racing. Lotteries are a joint venture between the state and OPAP, with only one sole operator for horse racing events since 1973

Betting: Regulated by the 2019 Betting Law, betting activities are overseen by the National Betting Authority. It’s worth noting that betting is unique in Cyprus as it’s not subject to a monopoly, and operators are allowed to offer their services online, covering both sporting and non-sporting events, including esports

A Remarkable Ascension

Since the introduction of licensed operations in 2017, Cyprus’ online betting market has been on a steady upward trajectory. While the Gross Gaming Revenue (GGR) in the betting sector remained nearly static between 2018 and 2019, signalling a saturated market, a closer look reveals a significant shift. During this period, land-based betting experienced a 22% GGR decline, whereas online betting witnessed a remarkable 47% surge, according to Slotegrator

The COVID-19 pandemic, with its temporary shutdowns of land-based establishments, gave a turbocharge to online betting. In 2020, Cyprus saw a unique trend: while other European jurisdictions saw a shift toward online casinos, here, it translated into a staggering 31.5% year-on-year GGR increase for online betting in the first two quarters, despite the absence of many sporting events. With the return of sports, this momentum continued, resulting in a further 44.1% year-on-year GGR surge in the latter half of 2020. This started the trend that land-based betting revenues remain stagnant, while Cypriot bettors have enthusiastically embraced online sportsbooks, creating a promising landscape for licensed operators

Accessibility and Responsibilities

To venture into the online betting sphere in Cyprus, operators must obtain “Class B” licences issued by the National Betting Authority. These licences are available in two variants: a 1-year licence for €30,000 or a 2-year licence for €45,000. Renewals follow the same duration and cost structure as initial applications

Notably, operators need not be physically based in Cyprus. However, they must deposit a €500,000 guarantee in the national bank, and the company’s minimum paid-up share capital is also set at €500,000

While there are no monthly fees tied to the licence, operators shoulder a total tax responsibility equivalent to 13% of their GGR. This comprises a 10% tax component and a 3% administrative fee

Striking a Balance

The National Betting Authority enforces a set of responsible gambling and advertising regulations, although they are not the most stringent among comparable jurisdictions. Operators must provide players with various responsible gambling tools, such as self-exclusion, time limits, loss limits, and deposit limits. However, unlike some European counterparts, they are not compelled to impose the use of these tools on players

Advertising in Cyprus is expected to adhere to high standards of social responsibility. Recent revisions in the Advertising Code, introduced in July 2021, focus on the content of ads, responsible gambling messaging, age-verification checks, and the use of social media influencers in marketing. The primary goal is to minimise exposure to gambling advertisements among minors

The National Betting Authority maintains a list of unlicensed gambling operators on its portal and can mandate internet service providers to block access to their websites. Sanctions for breaches of licence terms range from warnings to licence revocation, accompanied by substantial fines and even imprisonment

Reliable support

Analysing the Cyprus gambling scene, business owners should keep in mind that a reliable payment gateway isn’t just a nice-to-have feature – it’s a game-changer for operators aiming to carve out a strong presence. With the online betting sector experiencing remarkable growth, including substantial year-on-year revenue surges and heightened user activity, partnering with a payment gateway becomes absolutely essential

Cyprus’ distinct regulatory setup, where operators can offer online betting but must meet stringent licensing criteria, makes operational efficiency a top priority. A trustworthy payment gateway ensures that transactions happen smoothly and securely, which not only builds customer confidence but also helps maintain a competitive edge

Furthermore, as the market potentially expands to include online casinos and explores opportunities in neighbouring regions, operators with a robust payment infrastructure will be well-positioned to seize emerging prospects, making it an indispensable asset for those looking to thrive in Cyprus’ ever-evolving gambling landscape

Conclusion

Cyprus, despite its small size, presents a highly intriguing online gambling market. The recent explosive growth in online betting, coupled with reasonable licensing costs, makes it an enticing prospect for operators. Moreover, those entering the market now can establish strong brand recognition, positioning themselves favourably for potential future developments, including the potential legalisation of online casinos. Cyprus not only loves but thrives on betting, offering a promising frontier for licensed operators to explore, expand, and succeed

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