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Cyprus Internet Directory [ Police: cash, cards and chips points to gambling ]

Police: cash, cards and chips points to gambling

Poly Pantelides

POLICE spokesman Andreas Angelides yesterday defended a decision to raid two local trials being held to select a Cyprus team for an international poker tournament in London.

The organisers – the Cyprus Poker Association (CPA) – a government accredited group, and a member of the International Poker Federation, had organised trials in four districts and had informed the authorities three weeks in advance. There would be no prize money on offer as gambling is illegal. 

While the Nicosia trial went without a hitch, police raided the Larnaca trial on July 22, and the Limassol one on July 28. In total they have arrested 31 people who now face gambling charges.

They say money was confiscated at both events, therefore it was a crime. However the organisers said the money they found only comprised membership fees for those participating in the trials.

The CPA had told people that on the day of the trials they could pay a registration fee of €35 to be eligible to play in poker tournaments. It is adamant that no actual gambling takes place, which by law is punishable with up to six months in jail and/or a fine of €769. 

“We needed to put a good team together to compete. We wanted to get the best players in Cyprus” the CPA’s vice president Antonis Theophanides said.

Angelides said that in Larnaca police confiscated a receipt book, a large number of chips and cards and €610 in cash. “Therefore there was money,” he said, which justified the gambling charges. In Limassol, police confiscated €600, Angelides said, 494 chips and 104 plastic playing cards.

“The law says is up to court to rule whether a crime was committed and if – alternatively – the game was for fun, it is again up to the court to decide,” Angelides said.

“From the moment there is money present, the game is considered a crime, and those present are gamblers,” he said.

Asked why the police charged people in Larnaca and Limassol but not in Nicosia, Angelides said:  “Every case is examined given its own circumstances… I don’t know what happened in Nicosia”.

Angelides said that the police worked “within the context of campaigns and checks,” that money was “located during an investigation” and that “it looks like a crime was committed”.

“We will forward the cases “and the court can decide,” he added.

He said any correspondence and letters may also be used to decide “whether there was a crime or not”. 

When the CPA was invited to participate in the Nations Cup, it wrote letters to the attorney-general’s office, the police chief, the interior minister and the Cyprus sports federation informing them they would be holding a tournament, explaining the procedure, and clarifying their status, Theophanides said.

“The police called, we explained… [that] not a cent will change hands. The [Nicosia] police said: no problem, you can play,” Theophanides said.

“We showed our paperwork, we proved that we were invited to put a team together, but they still took us in.”

The CPA will hold a news conference tomorrow “to clarify [its] status”.

“Playing poker is not against the law. Gambling is illegal. We didn’t gamble,” Theophanides said.

Theophanides and Angelides were talking to state broadcaster CyBC who had asked them to comment on the Cyprus Mail’s main story on Tuesday.

While police appear to have difficulty enforcing gaming laws against large outfits such as online gambling outlets – now illegal - and underworld gaming operations, they regularly raid coffeeshops and even homes, especially at Christmas when Cypriots like to have a flutter. 

In 2009 a home where elderly women – most in their seventies – were playing cards, was raided, and police pushed the case all the way to court before attorney-general Petros Clerides suspended prosecution months later. The 44 women – the oldest of whom was 95 at the time – had €100 between them. 




(Source: Cyprus Mail)
Copyright © Cyprus Mail 2008 Please contact Cyprus Mail for the copyright terms of this article.

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