Legislators in Southern Cyprus have prepared a draft law on casino licensing with the hope that launching a casino targeting Russian gamblers will provide a huge boost to the economy.
Commerce, Tourism and Industry Minister George Lakkotrypis said: “We are interested in attracting investments for a resort that will incorporate a casino as this will help to improve our tourist product and make Cyprus a year-round tourism destination. We will move very fast.”
Russian visitor numbers to Cyprus increased by 15 per cent in April compared with April last year whilst the number of visitors from the UK and Germany, traditionally Southern Cyprus’ biggest tourists, dropped by 13 per cent and 39 per cent.
Cypriot politicians want to cash in on Russia’s near ban on casino gambling introduced in the summer of 2009. Casinos were banned to four remote casino zones with few developments having opened up so far.
Whilst the Turkish controlled north has allowed a casino industry to flourish, ironically after Turkey banned casino gaming in 1998, the Republic of Cyprus in the south has been slow to follow suit. However the failing economy could soon force the South’s political hand.