There are poker players in Cyprus and there is also a Cyprus Poker Association (CPA) that is legally recognized and even certified by the government. However, poker players in Cyprus are scared to play poker in a public forum in case they are arrested.
In Cyprus, playing poker for real money is not allowed and anyone found gambling for money are arrested. The Cyprus Poker Association (CPA) is about to send a team of poker players from the country to take part in a European championship poker tourney. According to Antonis Theophanides, the vice president of the Cyprus Poker Association (CPA), “We are making history as the first ever national poker team to represent the island.”
However, the authorities in Cyprus will not let the players practice and recently arrested a big group of players and seized cash from the tables, which the Cyprus Poker Association (CPA) claimed was membership fees. Theophanides expressed his dissatisfaction with all the red tape and permissions that they had to go through. He also added that they had faced no problems in Nicosia. “We decided to try and arrange the final trial tournament in Nicosia at the same venue – as we had previously been given permission for the initial trial there in July,” he said.
Although the Cyprus Poker Association (CPA) had been working and talking to the authorities in Cyprus securing permission for the tryouts, they ran into glitches over communication and the fine line between membership fees and playing for real money. “One of our members spoke to a different police officer a few days later as he was concerned about being arrested again,” said Theophanides. “The member was informed that ‘under no circumstances’ could we play the final. If we did, we would suffer the same fate as the Larnaca and Limassol trials.”
After this, Antonis Theophanides had to contact the authorities to straighten things out. “But when I explained that each player will pay €20 to cover costs of hiring the hotel function room, beverages and the dealers, we hit an obstacle…He couldn’t say either way what would happen. In fact his words were: ‘you should do what you want’. This wasn’t the reassurance we were looking for,” he said.
After a meeting with authorities some clarity was restored. “The meeting was very positive and we proved to the police, that beyond any doubt our event was a selection process, that no gambling took place and that not one single law was broken,” Theophanides said.