GREEK DRAFT ON GAMBLING BACK TO THE DRAWING BOARD
02nd April, 2011 at 04:16:40
European Commission not happy with current draft
Attempts by the Greek government to impose limitations on its liberalisation of a formerly monopolistic gambling industry have met with another less than enthusiastic response from the European Union this week, and a rejection of the Greek attempt to fast-track the controversial legislation, on which the Greeks have already had to back off on certain provisions.
The latest developments are likely to place increasing pressure on the cash-strapped Greek government if it hopes to get the new laws in place this year.
readers will recall that the Greeks have had to move away from the initially proposed 6% tax rate on turnover to a more practical but still unattractive gross margin tax of 30 percent. Operators will also be subject to normal corporate tax of 25% on net profits.
Then a proposed 'black period', in which applicants for licenses would have had to shut down operations pending the grant of a licence, was removed from the draft following an outcry from would-be operators.
That was followed by lowered minimum share capital requirements of Euro 400 000 and a more reasonable letters of credit demand of Euro 200 000 instead of the originally proposed Euro 300 000 in the tendering process. Minimum bet provisions were also reduced from Euro 5 to Euro 2 at the top end.
The draft now makes provision for the issue of 50 licenses instead of the originally proposed small numbers at exhorbitant fees.
Current estimates are that the 'legal' Greek market is worth around Euro 10 billion a year, making it an attractive arena...but only if tax and regulatory requirements are attractive enough to encourage online operators to set up business.
It is known that Greek punters are adept at using the internet to gamble, and will therefore be difficult to entice to locally licensed sites if the offers are not sufficiently competitive.
If the Greeks make the same mistakes on high taxation and onerous requirements as the French have done, they too may subsequently be forced by flagging operator interest to revisit the legislation.
The question of how advantaged the OPAP monopoly will continue to be in the Greek market will also be exercising the minds of potential internet licence applicants. With its established position and multitude of domestic land outlets suitable for cross marketing already in place, the company occupies a strongly competitive position in the market that will inevitably impact any online activity.
Last month the Right2Bet action group lamented the short - 5 days - public consultation period that the Greek government had allowed for comment on its proposals. It was yet another indication that the planning on the liberalisation of the Greek market continues to leave much to be desired.
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