Greece backs down on monopoly tax break

Greece has agreed with the European Commission to impose a flat 10% tax from next year on player winnings from all online games and land-based slots offered by national gambling monopoly OPAP.

The announcement follows last year’s State Aid complaint to the EC by industry lobby group the Remote Gambling Association on behalf of its members, which include all the leading pan-European operators such as 888, Betfair, bwin.party, Ladbrokes, Paddy Power, Sportingbet and William Hill.

The complaint lodged in October 2011 argued that the country’s new law to regulate on gambling flouted State Aid rules to unfairly favour OPAP by exempting its land-based operations from the 30% gross profit tax to be levied on online businesses and also from a 10% withholding tax on all winnings under €100.

RGA chief Clive Hawkswood said he was concerned Greek authorities were tilting the tax regime in favour of OPAP “with the aim of increasing its value prior to a proposed sale of the government’s share”.

Greece’s privatisation agency HRADF is expected to set a date for the start of an international tender to sell 29% of Greece’s 34% stake in OPAP at its board meeting today. The embattled Greek government’s share in OPAP has been valued at around €1bn.

One of Europe’s largest gambling markets, Greece passed a law to regulate online gaming last August, enabling the Minister of Finance to invite tenders for an unlimited number of five-year online gaming licences.

OPAP announced in July that it had awarded the potentially lucrative contract to supply it with online products including sports betting, casino and poker to Lottomatica’s egaming division, GTECH G2. Playtech and Intralot had also been shortlisted.

The Greek gambling monopoly had reportedly been weighing up a bid for London-listed operator Sportingbet prior to shortlisting the three service providers earlier this year.


Casino Choice journalist

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