The Cyprus government spokesman Christos Christofides announced a draft of a bill banning online gambling calling it a "Social wound." If this bill passes the fines can be up to 170,000 euro and five years in prison or both. Although I agree that gambling is a problem that needs to be addressed the bill proposed seems to be going a little to far and by this it jeoprodizes it's validity. It also effects people's privacy in their own homes. There are ways to fight gambling, but I believe that if a person has a problem, if you take away one way they will just find another. So dealing with this issue must be the way you deal with any addiction. Through knowledge, intervention and step by step with the right support, not through the threat of prison and fines. Although, the reason for the gambling ban is not because the Cyprus government cares so much about it's gambling addicts and vulnerable population in my opinion, but because it does not make any tax revenue from online gambling like it does from the legalized gambling!
Gamblers could still easily lose their money at race tracks, football matches, illegal gambling clubs and by going to the North.
According to CasinoAdvisor.com there is and annual turnover of 2.5 billion Euros generated from online gambling in Cyprus! It is a real problem.
When I first visited Cyprus I quickly realized that there were more betting shops in a small area than anywhere I have been before (except Las Vegas and Atlantic City). In the U.S. gambling is seen as destructive a disease as alcoholism and drug abuse. I know someone that operated one of the many gambling shops in Paphos and it was clear that it was very profitable. The fines imposed when they were caught for illegal activities hardly made any impact on the business since they made so much. It also became very clear to me that some of his patrons were truly having problems with gambling addiction. I heard of how one man who sold his family land and lost all the money almost immediately. Others were there on a daily basis and were a fixture in the shop until the money ran out, which it usually did.
The idea of this being a disease or even a real problem was never discussed even though families were being destroyed because of it. Now that people are starting to realize it is a real problem the government seems to be taking control, but I think they need to take care of what is right outside their window rather than the more evasive and harder to track online gamblers.
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