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Greece to Introduce a New Casino Licencing Scheme
- September 19, 2016 By Oliver Young -
Greece has been struggling to find additional income sources that will fill the country’s empty budget and help it recover from the terrible government-debt crisis which started in 2009.
A budget gap is best filled by additional tax incomes and numerous taxes have been raised or introduced in the country in the past several years. The newest betting and gambling tax increase already affected OPAP. OPAP still holds a betting monopoly in Greece.
Now, the Government has announced a new licencing scheme for online casino operators which have been operating from other EU-member countries. The aim of the new scheme that will be proposed very soon will be to make operators pay taxes on the amounts they earn of Greek citizens.
Operators Will Have to Pay 35% in Tax
This month, a Deputy Minister in the Greek Government has announced that the new rules for licencing online gambling operators will be completed and announced soon. He stated that the provisions of the new scheme will be available to the public within one month. Moreover, it has also been announced that a public tender for licences will be opened next month.
Some have suggested that the Greek authorities may have been motivated by a similar decision that was enacted by Romania. Namely, this country saw a 71% increase in online gaming tax revenues in 2015. However, in the case of Romania the operators were required to pay 20% of their total revenues as tax, whereas in Greece, that percentage will be a staggering 35%.
Therefore, it remains unclear how many operators would be willing to abide by the new rules. There have been suggestions that some operators might leave the market altogether. Greece has a serious tax evasion problem, but many experts fear that such drastic measures are not the solution.
Stricter Rules and Crackdown on Illegal Operators
Greece issued 24 gambling licences in 2011. However, these licences were temporary and were suspended one year later. Back then, it was suggested that the Government was trying to drive the price of OPAP’s share up, before it sells its share. Until 2013, the Greek State owned a third of OPAP’s share.
A representative of the Government was more than clear that the aim is to prevent companies from making profits in Greece, without paying any tax in the country. He used the term “lawlessness” when describing the current situation.
The issue has been discussed in the Greek Parliament and it has been revealed that the country’s Gaming Commission (EEEP) looked into the operations of the 24 holders of temporary licences. An opposition MP stated that the total revenues of 21 of the 24 operators were €116 in 2015.
The Deputy Minister of Finance stated that there are inconsistencies between the figures that the operators publish in some of their public documents and the reports that they send to the Government and the tax authorities.
The Gaming Commission has also been working on preventing unlicensed operators from offering services to Greek citizens. As a result, the number of casino websites which have been blacklisted by EEEP rose to 847, which is an increase of almost 100%.