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Betfair Quits Greece

By Lorys Charalambous,, Cyprus

29 November 2012

The gambling exchange Betfair has announced its withdrawal from the Greek market, citing uncertainty and fiscal conditions attached to new permits "which may include payment of taxes on historical revenues."

In a statement, Betfair stated that according to legal advice received, "the value of these permits is unclear and we consider the gambling legislation in the country to be inconsistent with European law."

Further, it stated that "on 5 November 2012, the Greek Gaming Commission issued a Decision that includes provisions for financial penalties and criminal sanctions against gaming operators that continue to operate in the market without a permit. Betfair believes that there are significant issues with the legality of this Decision." Betfair therefore intends to withdraw "until such time that there is greater clarity on the regulatory situation".

Betfair stated that it has been working with industry representatives "to achieve legislation that allows fair competition in the market."

"It is disappointing, however, that the European Commission has, despite previously stated intentions to the contrary, not taken effective action to prevent protectionist behavior,"

The gambling industry has long complained that restrictions on new entrants to the Greek gambling market do not apply to the incumbent monopoly gambling operator OPAP. The industry was particularly frustrated when in 2011 the Greek government granted OPAP an extension of its existing licence for an additional 10 years from 2020 to 2030, a decision that industry associations said was taken in “a wholly uncompetitive and non-transparent fashion.”

TAGS: tax | European Commission | gambling tax | gambling | licensing | Greece | European Union (EU) | Europe

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