Cyprus Needs New Casino Commission Members After Political Infighting

Posted on: February 22, 2023, 07:00h. 

Last updated on: February 22, 2023, 12:05h.

Cyprus is looking for a few individuals to be part of its Gaming and Casino Supervision Commission (GCSC). There are new spots the commission needs to fill after political infighting this week led to the rejection of three potential candidates.

Cypriot President-elect Nikos Christodoulides
Cypriot President-elect Nikos Christodoulides after voting on February 12. His arrival as the new government leader will bring changes to the gaming regulator of Cyprus. (Image: Getty Images)

Media outlet Kathimerini explains that, on Tuesday, lawmakers rejected the three candidates nominated to the GCSC by the current government. The government, currently led by President Nicos Anastasiades, is changing hands, and some members of parliament (MP) don’t believe it should be able to recommend who fills the spots.

As a result, most of the MPs in the House are demanding that the current arrangements be extended until the new government has taken office. Former Cypriot foreign minister Nikos Christodoulides recently won a runoff election and takes office as the new president on February 28.

Cyprus Undergoing Regime Change

The GCSC has seven members, all of whom were appointed by Anastasiades. He and Deputy Minister of Tourism Savvas Perdios have been pushing for the approval of the three candidates to the commission. However, the Cypriot Parliament’s Commerce Committee has to sign off on the positions following the expiration of the terms of the three on February 5.

MP Costas Costa asserted that the outgoing government shouldn’t be nominating new commissioners when it won’t be in place to oversee the activity. Edek MP Elias Myrianthous added that Anastasiades has handed over to his replacement the arrangement regarding the Cyprus Broadcasting Partnership chairman of the board. The same consideration, Myrianthous said, should apply to the GCSC.

As a result of the vacancies, there are just four individuals currently on the commission. However, a representative of the Cypriot attorney general’s office explained to Parliament that this isn’t a problem. The GCSC’s charter allows for such variations, and the four members still have the authority to make decisions.

Cypriot laws governing gaming include a clause designed to avoid potential conflicts of interest. It prohibits someone from becoming a commissioner on the GCSC if he or she is part of a connected business venture, such as a casino.

This prohibition extends to that individual’s life partner and relatives “up to a fourth-degree connection.” In addition, a shareholder with more than 1% in a gaming-related enterprise cannot be part of the commission.

Melco Resorts Plays Role in Delays

Lawmakers blocked the appointment of one of the potential candidates because of his relationship with the gaming industry. Christodoulos Angastiniotis, the head of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry, cannot be a commissioner, according to the MPs, because of his position.

The lawmakers assert that Melco Resorts International, which is building an integrated resort (IR) in Cyprus, is a member of the Chamber of Commerce. Therefore, Angastiniotis has a close relationship with the gaming industry, which causes a conflict of interest.

Angastiniotis disagrees. He points out that the civic organization has no members in the truest sense of the word. As a result, it would be impossible for Melco to be a member. In addition, he rejects claims that the casino operator has donated money to the Chamber of Commerce. MPs, however, apparently rejected his arguments, since they blocked his appointment.

Melco’s new City of Dreams Mediterranean resort will be the largest IR in Europe, according to the company. There have been delays in its completion because of COVID-19 and the magnitude of the project. But Melco expects to open the casino floor later this year.