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Lobbyists Challenge Greek Gaming Legislation

Lobbying groups the Remote Gambling Association (RGA) and the European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA) have filed a formal complaint with the European Commission challenging Greece’s “protectionist” gaming legislation.

The RGA and the EGBA argue that stipulations limiting transactions to Greek banks and requiring operators to have a permanent office in the country represent “unnecessary and unjustified economic burdens.”

Taxation is also facing criticism. Operators have to pay back taxes on revenues earned from January 2010, effectively creating a “market entry fee” for sites seeking a license, the two industry groups claim.

EGBA secretary general Sigrid Ligne has urged Michel Barnier, EU commissioner for Internal Market and Services, to follow up on his promise to crack down on member states with legislation at odds with EU law.

“Allowing Greece to proceed with this legislation unchallenged would represent an abject failure of those responsibilities,” she said. “We trust the commissioner will urgently investigate our compliant against Greece and take action accordingly as well as on several other pending complaints.”

Last month, the European Parliament voted in favour of the Creutzmann resolution, which calls for the “consistent use of infringement procedures by the Commission to ensure compliance of Member States’ legislation with EU law.”

This is the second complaint against Greece in as many months. In early October, the RGA filed a complaint with the European Commission that Greece’s online gambling legislation was in breach of EU State Aid rules. According to the RGA, tax treatment of part-state owned monopoly OPAP would give it an unfair economic advantage over private gambling operators.

Under the legalisation, OPAP, 34% owned by the Greek government, would be exempt from the 30% gross profits tax (GPT) to be levied on online operators. The law would also impose a 10% withholding tax on all winnings from online operators, but OPAP’s customers would be free from paying taxes on winnings of €100 or less.

In a response a week later, OPAP called the complaint “unfounded” and claimed that “different tax treatment does not in itself constitute state aid.”

Click here to read more about OPAP.

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