Greece Casinos and the Looming Regulations

Greece, Legislation

Greece seems like the perfect place to nip down on a vacation and visit a casino. However, newly-introduced regulations pertaining to the casino industry make it rather hard to enjoy the sunny climate when the costs of operating one’s business prove to be rather steep to begin with.

Think about the Mediterranean and almost immediately, a picture of antiquity will manifest itself to you. This is Greece, a country that doesn’t have siestas, but it likes to nap. Conversely, it’s also a country where gambling hasn’t been quite popular, being under the boot of the government’s monopoly.

However, this is about to change and at a rather good timeline, too! Go back several months, and you must have heard about the plans to legalize the industry. Not only that, but the country has seen a clear opportunity to take illegal gambling proceedings, tax it and add to the state’s coffers. One of those operators, OPAP, managed to amass €1 billion in 2017 alone through video lottery terminals (VLTs).

However, the new legislation seems to be rather restrictive of nature and imposing hefty costs on businesses that want to kickstart their operations. What’s going to happen next, though?

First, any operator that wants to have their two pence at the proposed legislation will have a window of opportunity until October 10, 2018 when the proposed draft will be sent to the European Commission for revision. The European Commission is in fact in charge of establishing pan-European laws on gambling. Recently, The European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA) kicked off legal proceedings against Norway for the country’s failure to comply with regulation.

Licensing – What a Pain in the Backside

To operate, every casino will need a license. Even though Greece has been turning a blind eye on any sign of misdemeanor so far this will not be the game come the new legal framework. The transitional licenses will be entirely replaced by a permanent license that can be purchased for €4 million to take your sports betting facilities online, which is steep. Meanwhile, poker and casino licenses will cost €1 million each. Despite the uncharacteristically high fees for Europe, the United States has seen similar demands.

In the State of Pennsylvania, a single license for any of these operations costs $4 million in the preliminary period and now the price is likely to go up again. The Netherlands is a great example of affordable license where the prices are comparatively low while you can still be hit by huge fines if you are operating unlicensed. According to a report, applying for a remote license would cost only $40,000, which does appear to be too low, but further research couldn’t quite pinpoint the numbers.

However, the Greek application process is rather steep to speak the truth. An application process on its own would cost €10,000 for each license you want to obtain, not to mention that you have to plonk down €500,000 extra as a security deposit. Much like in the Netherlands, any overseas operators will have to move inland or in the very least set headquarters which can undergo regulatory audits.

Taxation is a Challenging Task

Taxation has to serve two purposes. It has to allow businesses to stay competitive while paying their due and it must provide the opportunities for the state’s coffers to grow accordingly. Much examples could be given of taxing the gambling industry. The Netherland proposed 35% tax, which, according to a Reuters report, would have been too hard for the industry to survive.

Meanwhile, Greece is quite happy to embrace that figure and apply it, especially given the hefty debt that the country’s shouldering. Meanwhile, taxes in Switzerland, a place that was a hotbed for legal gambling disputes had been using a lot of the proceedings to support its pension funds.

Greece, though, has been quite adamant in its decision to impose rules that will guarantee high return for the country over the shortest possible time. While the country has turned a blind eye to OPAP, many other house names have been ostracized in the country, including 888, Ladbrokes, and Betsson. Betsson was recently caught up in another controversy, particularly in The Netherlands where the website had been offering iGaming products to Dutch citizens ahead of the actual passing of a law.

However, Betsson legal woes stem from Dutch Minister of Justice Sander Dekker’s decision not to allow any fined operator to participate in the gambling life in the country after a formal law has been passed. In this regard, Greece seems to be laxer.

Greece is also pushing ahead with an €8 billion-integrated resort, which is much like the one that Japan is building with the hopes being that international brands will flock down and start offering top-notch products. From what we have seen so far, the country is well-poised to start revving up revenue from land-based and online facilities. Are businesses just as optimistic about the future, though?

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