Residents’ and tourists’ perspectives on potential introduction of casino industry and its role in tourism and community development: the case of the Republic of Cyprus
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For years, the gambling industry has been gaining popularity among a variety of countries and communities for its contribution to tourism development and thus, to the economy. At the same time, the addictive nature of the gambling activities poses questions for society’s future wellbeing. In the Republic of Cyprus, tourism is a major economic activity. Recently, some of the local practitioners of tourism lobbied government to allow the introduction of the casino industry to increase tourists’ arrivals, enhance their experience, as well as limit the number of travelers who go to the bordering Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus for casino-gambling. However, the potential adverse impacts of gambling on the local community cannot be overlooked as a factor in decision-making. As a result, this study explores the implications for the Greek-Cypriot community development of introducing casino-style gambling as a part of the tourism development strategy. This study’s findings suggest that while the literature does indicate that there can be some possible immediate direct economic benefits from the introduction of casinos to local economies, those benefits are not demonstrated in this particular investigation. The findings were derived from a literature review, nineteen interviews, and two hundred and twenty surveys completed by tourists and local residents in Cyprus. They revealed mixed responses to the introduction of the casino industry. During the course of the data analysis and interpretation, it was identified that tourists are not as interested in seeing casinos introduced to Cyprus as were some local residents. If that is the case, on the basis of this study there does not appear to be a persuasive argument for introducing casino-style gambling to promote tourism on the island. Moreover, there are some potentially negative effects of gambling that could adversely affect the tourism industry and local culture.