The European Union (EU) Commission has sent another letter to the government of Greece, complaining that its gambling regulations violate EU law. The EU has been sending several such letters to Greece recently, and the latest letter was sent after the Greek Finance Ministry decided to offer a 10-year online gambling monopoly to OPAPSA, a partially state-owned operator.
Currently, OPAP monopolizes Greek land gambling, and this monopoly has been legally challenged by the gambling industry, which now hopes that the European Court of Justice will rule against it.
The gaming industry lost no time in objecting to the latest decision. The Remote Gambling Association issued a press release, in which it said: “There can be no justification for extending OPAP’s monopoly to cover nearly every aspect of online gambling. We have urged the Greek government to reconsider and have called on the European Commission to take action if it does not, because this move is a blatant breach of EU process and EU law.”
SportingBet, a gambling operator based in Europe, complained that the Greek government’s decision to expand OPAP’s monopoly is not only “scandalous,” but also “disgraceful,” adding that the government of Greece ought to “be ashamed with how this has been allowed to happen.”
Sportingbet will lose its 50,000 Greek players if the OPAP monopoly is definitely extended.
The EU Commission has written to inform the Greek government not to enforce the ultimatum they issued to gambling companies last month. Besides, the EU Commission has issued an action plan for gambling regulation, which disapproves of national gambling regulations that violate EU laws.
According to the latest gaming regulations in Greece, 24 interim licenses were provided along with a provision for the establishment of a licensing system for permanent applications. However, this system has not yet been implemented, and if the OPAP monopoly is extended, the 24 operators holding an interim license will have to withdraw from Greece, something that William Hill has already done.
When asked how Greece responds to the EU’s letter, Eugene Giannakopoulos, chairman of the Hellenic Gaming Commission, said, “We will respect European law” and indicated that the problems do not lie in his department, but in the Treasury.
He also assured that no action will be taken against gambling operators licensed in any EU country even if they do not hold a Greek interim license. Action will also not be taken against Greeks playing at online gaming sites with an EU license.