Greek online gambling market towards regulation – New draft law submitted

10 Oct 2019

A new draft law on online gambling was submitted to the Greek Parliament on the evening of 9/10/2019. The new draft has radically taken a different direction compared to the one submitted by the previous government to the European Committee (TRIS). The proposed online gambling legislation framework comprised 14 articles as part of the "Invest in Greece" bill of the Hellenic Ministry of Economy, Development and Tourism.   

The current government seems to have seriously considered many objections towards the previous draft submitted. As a result, it moved forward with noteworthy changes in the new draft, such as the acquisition fee reduction for Greek operators applying for an online betting license, which was well-received by all involved parties, coupled with the extension of the period the licenses are valid for, and the offering of RNG games on the operators' portfolio.  

License types & acquisition fees 

There still remain 2 types of licenses, one for online sportsbook and one for online casino, which includes live casino as well. What struck as one of the most significant improvements of the new draft though was the reduction of the fee to acquire a license.

For Online Betting and Virtual games, the proposed fee stands at €3,000,000, as opposed to €4,000,000 which the previous bill included. Online casino licenses will cost €2,000,000, which presents a rise from the former €1,000,000 fee. Another development worth mentioning is the validity period for all types, which has been extended to 7 years from the date the license is issued by the Hellenic Gaming Commission, as opposed to the 5 years they were in effect according to the previous framework. License renewal fees per type remain the same, and all holders have to apply at least a year before their current license expires. The validity period after the renewal remains intact.   

However, what's probably the most positive development in the new draft is that it includes the use of RNG games (Random Number Generator), a fact that has made the new licenses much more appealing to potential investors.   

Tax changes, license acquisition procedure & requirements 

The Hellenic Ministry of Economy, Development and Tourism, in an attempt to revamp the online gambling tax framework, moved forward with the abolishment of paragraph 7 article 50 of law 4002/11 that was in effect in the Transitional period, which imposed a 35% tax on GGR (Gross Gaming Revenue). According to the new draft law, operators will have to pay a 35% corporate tax now. A legislative innovation the draft law introduced, was the creation of an Affiliate Register as per Article 194, which will be directly controlled by the Hellenic Gaming Commission. Affiliates  will have to pay a fee of €1,000 to be listed on the Register. 

Licenses will be issued 2 months after the application submission. The new framework forbids license transfers and states that all licensees have to be legal entities based in Greece or any other EU country. They should also have a server located in Greece which the Gaming Commission will have access to for the next 10 years following the license issuance, ensuring proper data audit by the Commission and all involved audit institutions.

The license acquisition procedure also includes the submission of a letter of guarantee from a Greek credit institution together with a deposit of €500,000 and issued tax statements for the past 3 years. Unlicensed online betting companies (including the ones on the blacklist) will have to wait a year after the licensing process opens up to be eligible to apply for a license, as opposed to current license holders which can apply immediately when the new framework is implemented. Last, any changes to the new gambling framework will now be ordered directly by the Ministry of Finance and the Gaming Commission without any presidential decree, which was the case until now.

Transitional period until implementation 

According to the draft law submitted on the 9th October, the 31/3/2020 marks the end of the transitional period. All betting companies holding temporary licenses will be allowed to operate until then, as per Article 45 Law 4002/2011, as long as they pay the tax required to the Greek state. Once the new framework is implemented, betting companies will go through a transitional period until 31/03, where they will have to decide whether they want to apply for a permanent license, or exit the Greek gambling market altogether. 

Player tax is another aspect that the new draft law brought changes in. For winnings of €100 per column, no tax applies. €101 - €1,000 winnings run under a 10% tax, while for €1,001+ players will be taxed at 15%. The previous framework imposed no taxes on earnings up to €100, 15% for €101 - €500, and 20% for €501 or more. For better player protection, the new bill proposed the introduction of a new centralized service, called the Digital Player Account, which will enable players to set their own time limits, self-exclude from certain games etc. 

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