Greece Toutes EU Gambling Laws
Greek politicians are in unison that they plan to regulate the country’s internet gambling industry by Thursday, in spite of its current proposals that are in direct contravention with the European Union (EU) policies.
Various senior Greek ministers will make a last minute decision to see its gaming law debated until its finalization on Thursday the 5th of August. Irrespective of the European Commission (EC) stating that its draft proposals are not in compliance with EU laws. It appears that Greece’s politicians have take a firm stance by ignoring the EC’s concerns meaning the European body could start taking legal action and take the government to the European Court of Justice.
The moment the debate ends, on condition the Greek Parliament does not vote against it, the law could be implemented and attached to the government’s finance bill soon.
A Remote Gambling Association (RGA) representative told members that the Greek government has “ignored” the EC’s notification process and standstill period. “The disregard for those protocols and the speeding up of this legislation comes at a time when Greece is receiving a fair amount of financial aid from the EU,” he said.
As it stands Greece is facing one its most severe financial crisis’s yet. The country came close to bankruptcy last year, it managed to secure a new €109bn bailout deal, in addition to the €110bn rescue loans agreed in 2010 as well as introducing a hard-hitting strictness program in the same year. In the past it agreed that it would aim to raise a part of the required funds it owes the EU and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) by legalizing internet gambling and by selling 34% of its shares in the state gambling monopoly OPAP.
Greece’s finance minister, Evangelos Venizelos said the previous week that his government may disregard its original promise to sell its full stake in OPAP before this year is out. Instead it rather aims to generate revenues from the monopoly trying to reduce public debt.
“The bill, although welcomed in a broad sense by private internet casinos, many of which are UK companies, without a doubt provides commercial advantages to the existing state-owned OPAP operator over EU private sector businesses,” the RGA spokesman said.
“Especially, the imposition of a black out period during which no new licences will be available and where no private internet casinos will be able to offer services whilst OPAP continues to operate and provide services to Greek customers. By all means this is one of the main prejudiced aspects of the law that aims to regulate the EU private gambling sector,” he added.
The RGA tried to influence Greek ministers and policy makers pertaining to issues such as:
A 30% Gross Profits Tax (GPT) on internet casinos, higher than any other current regulated markets in France, Italy and the proposed new markets in Spain (20-25%) and Denmark (20%). Regardless of the RGA lobbying successfully to achieve a change in taxation to GPT it still views the rate as prohibitive.
A 10% “players’ tax” on winnings is more appropriate to the body as a further deterrent to gamble with a Greek licensed internet casino.
Ban on bets
A minimum blackout period of up to six months is proposed which effectively bans all internet casinos that offer gambling services to Greek players before they managed to procure a license. OPAP would be excused. This might be unreasonable with dire ramifications.
Compulsory use of Greek financial institutions
Forcing licensed internet casinos to make use of Greek financial institutions only is in breach of EU law, in relation to the free movement of capital.
Different age limits for internet and offline gambling
To limit internet gambling to a minimum of 21 years, on the other hand, the offline gambling activities of OPAP are restricted to a minimum of 18 years.
Requirement to have a permanent business in Greece
Operators must have a registered office or permanent residence in Greece; this counters the freedom to properly provide services.[addtoany]