Cyprus to ban welfare recipients from gambling

Customers wagered €959m in Cyprus last year.
Customers wagered €959m in Cyprus last year.

The proposed gambling exclusion list could automatically include all people receiving welfare payments.

Cyprus.- The government of Cyprus will consider automatically excluding all people who receive welfare payments from the state among a number of proposals aimed at reducing gambling harm. The proposal was mentioned by Ioanna Fiakkou, chair of the National Betting Authority.

Fiakkou appeared in parliament to review the regulator’s budget for the upcoming fiscal year. She said that a self-exclusion platform will soon be rolled out in Cyrpus in partnership with the ministries of health and labour. All welfare recipients – including beneficiaries of Guaranteed Minimum Income (GMI) – will automatically be banned from gambling.

Fiakkou said there had been “tragic cases” of GMI recipients and those on disability allowance spending all these funds on betting.

Other measures to be introduced once the National Betting Authority’s budget is approved include the creation of a gambling addiction treatment programme in the Famagusta district. Meanwhile, a proposal submitted to the minister of health proposes the creation of a screening programme within the national health system to provide preventative treatment to those who display early signs of gambling addiction.

Fiakkou noted that in 2022, €959m was staked at licensed betting shops in Cyprus. That represents 3.55 per cent of GDP, which compares to 0.99 per cent in 2016. The return of winnings reached €843.42m and the state collected taxes of €11.75m.

Of the taxes generated, 2 per cent goes to the Cyprus Sports Organisation, €3.5m to sports federations and the Cyprus Football Association and 1 per cent to the National Betting Authority to fund programmes aimed at tackling gambling addiction.

However, Dipa MP Alekos Tryfonides expressed concern about how controls are implemented at betting shops by private individuals contracted by the state. He proposed that checks be carried out by full-time civil servants, who would be accountable to superiors.

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