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RGA Complains To EC About New Greek Gambling Laws

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Online gambling representative organisation, the Remote Gambling Association
(RGA), has lodged a complaint with the European Commission (EC) regarding the
unfairness and ‘incompatibility’ of Greece’s new gambling laws with State aid
requirements as set out by the European Union (EU).

The London and Brussels-based RGA has alleged that under new Greek gambling
laws, Greece’s partly state-owned lottery and sports betting operation OPAP
(Greek Organisation of Football Prognostics S.A), will receive an ‘unfair’ tax
exemption of 30 percent on all gross profits across its land-based operations.

In addition, under the new law, OPAP players will be exempt from paying tax on
any winnings under €100, despite the fact that the winnings on all online
gambling players’ winnings will be taxed at a flat 10 percent.

RGA Concerned Over Greek Gambling Laws

Said RGA Chief Executive Officer Clive Hawkswood, ‘Despite the RGA having had a
constructive relationship with the Greek authorities during the development of
the new legislation, significant concerns remain about the viability and
legality of the market under the terms of the new law.

‘Remote [online gambling] operators wish to obtain licenses in Greece and to
continue to offer Greek consumers competitive and well-regulated products,’ he
continued. ‘However, the current unjustified fiscal favouritism being afforded
to OPAP makes this extremely difficult and we urge the European Commission to
investigate the new legislation for being in breach of State aid rules.’

Hawkswood also raised concerns that the tax breaks for OPAP’s land-based
operations appeared to be purposefully incorporated into the new Greek gambling
laws with the objective of increasing OPAP’s value before the upcoming sale of
the government’s shareholding in the lucrative Greek gambling operation.

‘We are fully aware of the current fiscal pressures on the Greek authorities,
but they do not justify the imposition of anti-competitive tax provisions that
benefit the existing monopoly gambling provider over private online operators
soon to be licensed in Greece,’ said the CEO.

Taxes Don’t Conform with EU State Aid Rules

‘Not only does such action not conform with EU State aid rules but, if
implemented, it will have a damaging impact on the private sector and associated
growth and employment opportunities as well as curbing competition and consumer
choice. As such, we feel compelled to take this action and challenge the Greek
authority’s favourable tax treatment of the part state-owned gambling operator

However, Hawkswood was quick to explain that the RGA accepts that while
there may be a case for remote or online gambling services to be taxed
differently to land-based gambling concerns in Greece, that difference in
taxation should be both objective and justified in relation to the respective
tax regime.

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