Europe Makes Internet Gambling Progress
It was reported the previous week that three European countries are busy making progress toward egaming regulation.
Greece was the country with the most noteworthy news. A date has been set in September by international money lenders that the Greek government must implement a plan on how it’s going to generate additional revenue streams. Internet gambling is one such measure and the generation of revenue for the government from the gambling monopoly OPAP.
According to the media a memorandum of understanding (MOU) will most probably be signed between OPAP and the government before the set deadline. It entails the awarding of new gaming licenses and extending OPAP’s sports betting monopoly to 2020, OPAP will pay the necessary license fees. The approximate value of these license fees total €950 million. We believe the government of Greece will not see any the funds before the 30th September deadline. A proper agreement that cover all aspects will have to be drafted.
Despite the fact that the government owns 34% of OPAP, OPAP CEO Spanoudakis said that the gambling company must first get permission for the agreement from its other shareholders in a general body meeting. Subsequently OPAP will have to borrow some of that amount from financial institutions. At the end of 2011 the government planned to sell its stake in OPAP, at this stage it’s unclear whether it wants to continue with this plan or not. It stands to reason that some politicians are not prepared to sell the control of a cash generating organization.
The legalization of internet gambling in the Netherlands looks promising, since the government wants to legalize and regulate it but it’s incapable to rally enough support from the members of parliament. Many Dutch MPs feel that the proposal does not cover the problems associated with internet gambling addiction properly, hence the reason they want to block the bill. Dutch Deputy Minister Teeven said that the government aims to establish a new gambling watchdog organization, but most MPs believe it’s a toothless tiger. MPs across all political parties such as the Green Left, the Christian Union, the Socialist Party and the Labor Party are against the move to liberalize and legalize internet gambling.
Italy is now tasting the sweat fruits of its regulated gambling market has reported positive statistics so far. The Italian regulator AAMS indicated that Italy’s total gambling wagers rose by 21.45% in the first seven months of 2011 to €41.9 billion in comparison to the same period in 2010. The rise is faster than the 19.33% increase seen in the first half of the year. The opening up of the sector, counting in slots resulted in the exceptional increase in July 2011.[addtoany]