Greece’s plans to legalize online gambling have been revised again, this time to eliminate tax hikes suggested in the latter plan.
Earlier this month, Greece’s Ministry of Development and Investment unveiled an updated draft of its proposed internet gambling reforms, which retained a controversial proposal to pay tax revenues at 35%, but overturned a section of the 2011 gambling law that allowed online licensees to withhold this amount from their corporate tax liabilities.
The change generated strong reactions from 24 operators who were granted “temporary” online permits in 2011, as well as operators who were considering entering the regulated Greek market for the first time. In response, the government has made additional changes to the legislation to clarify that operators will be allowed to calculate income tax before applying income tax.
However, despite fierce lobbying from both local and international operators, the ministry appears intent on keeping the 35% income tax rate when the final document is submitted to the House of Representatives this week. Huge online licensing fees are also likely to be accepted:
- € 3 million in sports betting,
- € 2 million for casino games.
Assuming the new law is passed, the cash-strapped government says it expects to increase its annual tax collection from online rates to € 73 million.
Greek gambling operator OPAP continues to oppose the government’s plan to allow random number generator (RNG) online casino games, based on the company’s belief that they are too similar to video lottery terminals, over which OPAP has a local monopoly. OPAP has called on the government to either impose hard restrictions on online RNG games or limit their availability to OPAP.
As previously reported at casinoz, OPAP’s previous monopoly on online sports betting has already been invalidated by Greek courts, so the government is unlikely to comply with OPAP’s requirements for RNG games.
Meanwhile, Greek tech giant OTE Group confirmed this week that it plans to enter the local online gambling market in partnership with local lottery and betting operator Intralot. Assuming they will approve Greece’s final online gambling legislation, the parties plan to submit a joint license application through a partnership in which OTE will own a majority stake. However, OTE has denied rumors of intent to acquire Intralot.
OTE is a subsidiary of Deutsche Telekom that worked with online sports betting in its native Germany and then closed its German-language betting site in 2016 for "commercial reasons."