Joe Modestou has spent the last two-and-a-half-years fighting an illegal gambling charge brought against him by Cyprian police. He was finally acquitted late last week, with the judge adding that the prosecution should have "done better research."
Modestou, a corporate magician and former casino croupier, was the director and operator of Magicasino Cyprus, a company that staged "fun" gambling events, often for corporate clients.
Modestou insists that no actual gambling took place at the events - they were either for charity or stakes were provided as part of the event and could only be traded for prizes. He also notes that the only monetary compensation he received was his pre-arranged fee, and that none of his equipment was of a professional grade. That didn't stop Cyprian police from confiscating his equipment and charging him with operating an illegal casino after somebody filed a complaint about an event he set up for British shopping outlet Debanhams back in 2015. At the event, people who visited his merchandise stand would receive five tokens. Anyone who managed to gamble their way to 150 tokens would receive a €5 voucher for use in that same shop.
Since the court case began, Modestou has had to travel across the country to appear in court nearly 15 times, with each hearing lasting less than an hour. Now he's finally exonerated, Modestou is considering suing the government to recoup both his lost earnings and the damage down to his reputation. As he said on Facebook:
To add insult to injury, Modestou didn't even get his equipment back. It was destroyed in a fire along with a room full of evidence back in February.