History of gambling licensing in Cyprus
Cyprus began issuing gambling licenses only a few years ago. The first milestone was the adoption of the Betting Law in 2012, which established a regulatory body, the National Betting Authority (NBA). The NBA is responsible for handling registration applications, awarding licenses, conducting audits, and supervising gambling operators.
The second regulator in the country is the NGCSC — National Gaming and Casino Supervision Commission. From a legal perspective, the land-based gambling market is regulated more strictly than the online betting industry. For example, there is no way to play real money online poker or blackjack. There are also no video slots or fortune wheels on any of the betting websites. Playing offline poker is allowed, but only in specific gambling venues.
In 2015, the parliament passed another law allowing licensing of land-based casinos. Today, the National Betting Authority prescribes that an applicant company must be registered in Cyprus. There are two types of licenses in the country:
- Class A. Regulates land-based gambling premises located on the island.
- Class B. Regulates online betting.
Both the permits cover sports betting. If you are planning to start a land-based gambling business in Cyprus (rent an office, buy equipment, and hire staff), apply for a Class A license. Your clients will be able to bet on football, soccer, basketball, hockey, tennis, and any other games. The only exception is horse racing.
Class B licenses are intended for operators who plan to conduct remote gambling operations. If a company accepts bets without a license, it can be heavily fined.
Below we will talk about the main requirements for applicants, the duration of the licenses, some possible restrictions, and the gambling taxes in Cyprus.
Main requirements for operators applying for a Cypriot license
Cyprus is considered one of the most attractive jurisdictions for online gambling. However, at the moment, the only form of online gambling allowed in the country is sports betting. Also, physical presence of a company (or its partner) is mandatory.
In order to obtain an official permit to operate a gambling platform in Cyprus, a company must meet the following requirements:
- Partnership with a Cypriot company. An alternative option is a physical presence in the country.
- No criminal record.
- Capital endowment.
Applicants must pay an entry fee of €30,000. The cost of a two-year license is €45,000. In addition, a paid-in capital of €500,000 is required. This rule applies to both Cypriot and foreign companies. An operator undertakes to comply with customer protection rules recommended by the NBA, open a bank account in Cyprus (relevant to Class B license holders), and maintain an effective accounting system.
Online gambling taxes in Cyprus
Before you acquire an iGaming license in Cyprus, make sure to learn about the tax assessment and collection rules. Firstly, Cypriot licenses are primarily intended for companies from the European Union. Secondly, the permit is issued only for 1-2 years, unlike in many other jurisdictions where its duration can be up to 5 years. Naturally, you can always extend your license by submitting a relevant application. If a client does not comply with the law, the National Betting Authority has the full right to suspend or revoke their license.
Every licensed sportsbook is subject to a flat tax rate of 13%. It consists of a 10% betting tax and a 3% contribution to the Authority.
Cypriot law prohibits minors under 18 from attending betting shops and participating in lottery draws. Any type of online gambling other than sports betting is banned in the country. To place a bet over the Internet, one must create an account. It then can be funded with cards and digital wallets. Note that cash payments are not permitted.
The Cypriot licenses are definitely not on the cheap side. On the other hand, the country’s legislative framework is well-defined and clear, and its taxation system is quite favorable. This makes Cyprus a great option for those seeking to start an iGaming business.
If you are interested in obtaining a license in Cyprus, Malta, Curacao or another jurisdiction, feel free to contact us for consultation. Our managers are available via email or the contact form on the website.
GamingLicensing is open to cooperation with companies from different parts of the world. We help with documentation and represent our clients before licensing authorities. A partnership with GamingLicensing will make starting your business fast and easy!