Industry Groups Challenge Greece's New Online Gambling Regulation Industry Groups Challenge Greece's New Online Gambling Regulation

The Remote Gambling Association (RGA) and the European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA) filed a formal complaint Monday with the European Commission, urging it to address Greece’s new online gambling regulation that the groups claim to be non-compliant with European law.

In a joint statement published Monday, the two industry groups welcome the opening of online gaming in Greece – that will permit foreign companies to operate and advertise online services in the country – but claims that it is still overly protectionist, with high barriers of entry for new market entrants and a suffocating tax system that hinders online operators.

In July, the European Commission issued a detailed statement indicating that the proposed Greek regulation was largely incompatible with EU law. Despite the concerns, Greece has pushed ahead with its reforms.

“We have welcomed the opening of the Greek online gambling market as a positive step,” states Clive Hawkswood, Chief Executive of the RGA, in the statement published today. “However, it is paramount that any new regime is conducted in a fair and transparent fashion which follows EU rules.”

Stating the the groups are “particularly concerned about the new tax regime,” the groups claim that gambling operators currently serving Greek customers may have to pay tax applied retroactively from January 2010. Operators will also be required to have a permanent establishment in Greece and use Greek bank accounts, causing them “unnecessary and unjustified economic burdens.”

Meanwhile, the incumbent state-owned OPAP, that holds a monopoly on all brick & mortar gambling in the country, has had its license extended until 2030. OPAP is not required to pay any gambling tax, making for a “wholly uncompetitive” market, the groups state.

Referring to the commitment of the European Parliament to assess the compliance of Member States of EU law, Sigrid Ligné, Secretary General of EGBA, said that allowing Greece “to proceed with this legislation unchallenged” would “represent an abject failure” of these responsibilities.

“We trust the Commissioner will urgently investigate our compliant [sic]
against Greece and take action accordingly against Greece as well as on several other pending complaints,” she added.