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Greece to Crack Down on Unlicensed Sites

The Hellenic Gaming Commission has announced that unlicensed operators have until December 6 to shut down online activities.

Blacklisted operators will have websites and bank transactions blocked. They will also face ten years in prison and a fine of €200,000-€500,000. 

Paddy Power and Sportingbet are the only two prominent European firms with a temporary license in the country. Many operators did not apply for a license at the end of 2011, which required paying two years in retrospective taxes.

Betfair, William Hill and Bet365 filed a complaint to the Greek council of state and the European Commission instead, claiming that the country’s regulatory framework is in breach of EU law.

Sigrid Ligne, secretary general of the European Gaming and Betting Association, said yesterday: “Despite Greece showing an intention to reform, which we welcome, the fact remains that its old and new gambling laws are not EU compliant.”

The European Commission has an infringement case open against Greece, and is investigating complaints over the new legislation, which was passed by Greece’s parliament in August 2011.

Last month, the European Commission released a report outlining plans to crack down on regulatory regimes that are not in line with EU law. Legislation in nine countries, including Greece and Germany, will be referred to the European Court of Justice.

Restrictive, protectionist legislation “closes the door” to regulated operators, encouraging consumers to seek unlicensed sites, lobbying groups argue.

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