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Cyprus casino licence due in less than a year

Cyprus said Friday (Aug 1) that plans to issue a first-ever licence for a casino resort in the south of the Mediterranean holiday island is moving at pace and should take less than 12 months.

NICOSIA: Cyprus said Friday (Aug 1) that plans to issue a first-ever licence for a casino resort in the south of the Mediterranean holiday island is moving at pace and should take less than 12 months.

"Procedures are moving fast, and the aim... is to award a licence for an integrated resort casino in less than a year," government spokesman Nicos Christodoulides said in a statement.

There have long been casinos in the breakaway Turkish Cypriot north, but opposition from the influential Orthodox Church and concerns among many Greek Cypriots about the social dangers of gambling have kept them out of the south.

A plan approved by the cabinet last year foresees a single super-casino resort, intended to attract big spenders to a country more dependent than ever on tourism after its once lucrative banking sector was ravaged by the eurozone debt crisis.

State lawyers are fine-tuning the proposed legislation before it is submitted to parliament for approval, which is expected despite objections from the main opposition party Akel.

It remains unclear when the first casino would actually open but the investor would get to choose the location of the complex.

The licence would be valid for 30 years, with the successful bidder getting an exclusivity agreement for 15 years, and the state would charge a 15 percent tax on gross income from gambling, Christodoulides said.

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