Northern Cyprus, officially known as the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), is a self-declared state located on the northern part of the island of Cyprus. It is recognized only by Turkey and is considered by the international community as occupied territory of the Republic of Cyprus. Despite the political instability, the TRNC has been able to develop a thriving gambling industry, which attracts thousands of tourists every year.
History of Gambling in Northern Cyprus
Gambling has a long history in Northern Cyprus. In the early 1970s, when the island was still under British control, the first casinos were established in the cities of Famagusta and Kyrenia. However, it was not until the 1990s that the industry really took off, thanks to the government’s decision to legalize and regulate it.
In 1996, the first legal casino, the Merit Crystal Cove, was opened in Kyrenia by a Turkish Cypriot businessman named Asil Nadir. The casino was an instant success and soon became a major source of revenue for the TRNC government. Over the next few years, several other casinos were opened, including the Colony Club, the Jasmine Court, and the Noah’s Ark Deluxe Hotel and Casino.
Today, the TRNC is home to about 20 casinos, most of which are located in Kyrenia and Famagusta. These casinos offer a wide variety of games, including slot machines, blackjack, roulette, and poker. They also offer amenities such as restaurants, bars, and live entertainment.
The Impact of Gambling on Northern Cyprus
The gambling industry has had a significant impact on the economy of Northern Cyprus. According to a report by the Turkish Cypriot Chamber of Commerce, the industry generated over 200 million euros in revenue in 2018, accounting for about 12% of the TRNC’s GDP. The industry also employs thousands of people, including dealers, croupiers, and other staff.
In addition to providing jobs and revenue, the gambling industry has also helped to boost tourism in Northern Cyprus. Many tourists come to the TRNC specifically to gamble, and the casinos often offer packages that include hotel accommodations and other amenities. The industry has also helped to attract wealthy tourists, who are willing to spend large amounts of money on gambling and other leisure activities.
However, the industry has also been criticized for its negative social impact. Some critics argue that gambling addiction is a growing problem in Northern Cyprus, and that the government has not done enough to address it. They also argue that the industry has contributed to the rise of organized crime and money laundering in the TRNC.
Regulation of Gambling in Northern Cyprus
The gambling industry in Northern Cyprus is regulated by the TRNC government’s Ministry of Tourism and Environment. The Ministry is responsible for granting licenses to casinos and other gambling establishments, and for enforcing regulations related to gambling.
To obtain a license, casinos must meet strict requirements related to financial stability, security, and player protection. They must also pay a fee to the government, which is used to fund social programs and other initiatives.
Despite the government’s efforts to regulate the industry, there have been several instances of illegal gambling in Northern Cyprus. In 2018, for example, police raided an illegal casino in Kyrenia and arrested several people. The government has also taken steps to crack down on online gambling, which is illegal in the TRNC.
The gambling industry has become an important part of the economy of Northern Cyprus, providing jobs and revenue and helping to boost tourism. However, the industry has also been criticized for its negative social impact, including gambling addiction and organized crime. As the TRNC government continues to regulate the industry, it will need to balance these competing interests to ensure that the industry remains a sustainable and responsible source of revenue.