Greece Finally Gives Green Light to Gambling Bill

Oct 31

After much debate, legislators of Greece have finally given the go signal for the government to introduce its very first regulated online gambling bill.

While the initial framework was given approval in September of last year, the bill still needed to go through the European Commission (EC) and Greece’s own House of Representatives.

The gambling passage has been ratified as part of a new package dubbed “invest in Greece” and much has been made of the possible tax revenue that online gaming could bring in.

With a struggling economy, the Syriza party was crafty enough to recognize the value in the taxation of gambling profits and license fees. They projected that, at the existing rate of growth, this could gather an extra €500m (or $554m) every single year.

However, there were a few issues that had to be ironed out, including how the random number generated (RNG) games fit into the new framework. These account for some of the current operators’ most popular titles. They were at the center of controversial discussions last year when the government considered prohibiting them. With threats of a legal challenge from operators, this issue has since been abandoned.

A total of 24 online gambling operators have been issued a temporary license under a transition stage since 2011. They would now all have to reapply once these temporary licenses end on March 31, 2020.

The cost of these new licenses was previously set at €5m (or $5.54m) each. However, after hearing backlash from operators, the cost of a license has now been reduced to €3m (or $3.32m) in the hopes of opening up the competitive market.

Taxes from gross gaming revenue (GGR) would be established at 35% for all license holders. While this has been a previous sticking point for operators, they would have the ability to discount their GGR revenue before a further 20% corporation tax is applied.

The government had previously talked about including a €500,000 deposit for gambling companies going through a license review by the Greek Finance Ministry. However, this idea has also been scrapped.

Other potential charges that have been dropped include a 15-20% tax on player winnings above €100 (or $110) and €500 (or $553) respectively.

However, there has been one non-negotiable stipulation and that is around blacklisted operators. Operators who find themselves on the Hellenic Gaming Commission’s blacklist and those added to the list in the past 12 months would be kept from applying.