Government to cut betting tax in bid to raise revenue

The government plans to cut betting tax to 10 per cent from the present 25 per cent in a bid to clamp down on illegal practices and enhance tax revenues, officials said yesterday.

In 2006, betting tax revenues declined to CYP 4.27 million from CYP 4.59 million in 2005, coming largely from bets on horses and football.

Illegal betting is considered to be responsible for the declining revenues.

„The proposed change provides that taxation will be paid not by the player but by the betting agent, based not on the amount of the bet but on the difference between [received betting] revenues and amounts paid [to winners]“, Iphigenia Petrocosta from the Finance Ministry told parliament’s finance committee.

Representatives of gaming companies said the proposed change was a step in the right direction.

„We believe that this law will help legal betting,“ Glafkos Harmantas, president of OPAP Cyprus told Reuters, but he declined to speculate on the dimensions of illegal betting.

The Finance Ministry’s Petrocosta said the proposed legislation is an interim solution as the European Commission is to decide on Europe-wide rules.