Two of Europe’s foremost gambling industry associations have again complained about Greece to the European Commission. The European Gaming and Betting Association (RGA) and the Remote Gambling Association (RGA) are calling on the European Union to investigate the country’s new gambling act as it contravenes the continent’s own rules.
“Commissioner Barnier recently confirmed that the he would take his responsibilities seriously in ensuring the compliance of Member States’ gambling legislation with EU law. We trust the Commissioner will urgently investigate our complaint and take action accordingly against Greece as well as on several other pending complaints,” said Sigrid Ligné, Secretary General of EGBA.
The non-compliance involves Greece’s decision to award a 10-year extension to the incumbent monopoly operator OPAP, which now extends its services to offering online gambling to Greek citizens. That runs out in 2030 and the process in failing to notify the EU breaks directive 98/34/EC. Following this the country introduced new enforcement measures that include prison terms, large fines and payment blocking on firms that are unlicensed and banks that facilitate their services. The new measures have already forced Betfair to rethink their strategy in the country and Clive Hawkswood, CEO of the RGA, was equally as scathing as EGBA head Ligne.
“When the Greek Government said it was going to license and regulate the domestic online gambling market we welcomed this as a positive step. However, instead of encouraging the development of a competitive and well-regulated market, the Greek Government and Gaming Commission are blocking major European private operators from it. We therefore look to the Commission, as guardian of the Treaties, to ensure that Greece follows the correct procedures and that the laws that it is seeking to introduce are fully compliant with EU law,” Hawkswood said.
The move from Greece goes completely against the “open, fair and transparent” licensing conditions that are the wish of the EGBA. The members of both organizations are almost all publicly-traded companies and thus have a lot more reliance on regulated European markets than their privately-held counterparts that are having a ball over in Asia. If the new complaint will get the EU to do anything is unclear and if they decide that Greece has done nothing wrong then we can expect many more firms to follow Betfair out of the market.