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Industry Planning Greek Gambling Regime Challenge

by Ulrika Lomas,, Brussels

24 January 2013

In a letter to the Greek President, the Prime Minister and the Minister for Finance, the Remote Gambling Association has warned of the legal avenues its members may pursue if the government does not amend the proposed Greek gambling regime to bring it into line with European Union and Greek domestic law.

The RGA, which represents the majority of the largest European remote gambling operators, has raised concerns that the government is granting OPAP, the incumbent state monopoly of most forms of gambling in Greece, exclusive rights to provide nearly all online gambling products in addition to its offline services. Crucially, the government has failed to begin licensing online gambling operators despite passing its new gambling law in August 2011.

Furthermore, the Association argues that new enforcement measures that have recently been transposed into law would serve to protect the new OPAP monopoly. Unlicensed operators would be subject to Internet Service Provider (ISP) and payment blocking; and both operators and banks and internet providers who facilitate gambling could be fined.

The Association has warned the Greek government that private sector online gambling companies could be eligible for compensation that could amount to tens of millions of euros if they are unlawfully excluded from the Greek market. Numerous legal measures are available to the association's members and these are actively being considered, the RGA warned.

Clive Hawkswood, Chief Executive Officer of the RGA said: "We want to work with the Greek government to ensure that the new regime provides a regulated and competitive domestic online gambling market that protects the consumer, is viable for the industry, delivers additional tax revenues, and is fully compliant with EU law. However, if the Greek government and Gaming Commission continue without any legitimate justification to block major European private operators from the online market, then those operators will have no choice but to consider challenging them further in the courts."

"Members of the RGA expect all operators to be offered a level playing field across Europe," he added. "In Greece we have OPAP's monopoly being protected and extended for a short term gain when in the long run the Greek people would benefit from additional choice and better value if the remote gambling market is opened up."

TAGS: court | tax | European Commission | law | offshore | internet | gambling | licensing | legislation | offshore e-gaming | Greece | regulation | European Union (EU) | Europe

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