William Hill Online Pulls Out of Greece William Hill Online Pulls Out of Greece
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William Hill has announced that it is stopping all online operations in Greece, including online poker, following the Hellenic Gaming Commission’s warning last month.

The Greek gambling commission set a December 6 deadline for unlicensed gaming providers to cease operating or face possible financial penalties and criminal sanctions.

In a press release late on Tuesday, William Hill complains that the Greek regulatory regime is “inconsistent” with EU law and is disappointed that “the European Commission continues, despite previously stated intentions to the contrary, not to take effective action” to what it sees as “protectionist behavior.”

“The Greek, German and Belgian regimes are only the most recent examples,” it adds.

The Remote Gambling Association (RGA) and the European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA) have both filed complaints with the European Commission regarding the Greek gaming law.

In July last year the Commission issued a statement concluding that the proposed Greek regulation was largely incompatible with EU law, but the Greek government paid no heed to these concerns and pushed ahead with its new regime.

Operators seeking a license were required to pay back taxes to January 2010, set up permanent establishments and use bank accounts in Greece. After complying with these conditions they faced competing with the partially government owned OPAP, the Greek Organisation of Football Prognostics S.A, which has been exempted from the gaming taxes levied on all other licensed operators.

William Hill said that the withdrawal was not permanent and would last only until, “there is greater clarity on the regulatory approach to be taken by the Greek authorities.”

The latest EU Commission Action Plan strongly implies that EU intervention in the situation is unlikely until after the “expert committee” established under the plan reports back in two years’ time, so the company is unlikely to return to the Greek market for some time.

Betting exchange Betfair took its decision to leave at the end of last month citing similar concerns. Until this decision Betfair was expected to make £13m in profit from their Greek customers. William Hill Online states that it expects to lose £4-5m in anticipated annual operating profits as the result of its own withdrawal from the market.