Greece tells online gambling sites not to fear April Fool’s Day


greece-online-gambling-licensingGreece-facing online gambling operators won’t have to halt their business at the end of March, even if the country’s new licensing system won’t be ready by then.

On Wednesday, the Hellenic Gaming Commission (HGC) offered some assurance to the 24 holders of ‘temporary’ online gambling licenses that they won’t face any repercussions when those transitional licenses expire on March 31, provided they hand their paperwork in on time.

For years now, Greece has been trying to enact a new online gambling licensing regime to replace the botched system that issued those temp licenses nine years ago. Those approvals were almost immediately revoked in favor of a online betting monopoly for domestic operator OPAP, which meant a higher price when the government went looking to sell its one-third stake in OPAP.

Following a change in government, the new online licensing system was finally sent to the European Commission (EC) for approval. The standstill period is scheduled to end in April.

But the HGC is still tinkering with its online regulations and thus has yet to start issuing any permanent licenses. The 24 transitional licenses are set to expire on March 31, leaving licensees unsure what this means for their Greek-facing operations.

This week, Greek media reported that the HGC had informed its temporary licensees that so long as they submit a permanent license application before March 31, their business will be permitted to continue after that date while their application is processed. Fail to apply by March 31 and your business will be considered illegal as of April 1.

Greece’s online rules have undergone some changes since they were first unveiled, including following the lead of the UK by limiting online casino stake limits to €2. But Greece plans to go one step beyond by proposing a maximum online casino payout of €5k during any one gaming session, although jackpots up to €500k will still be allowed.

Operators will also be restricted to advertising their random number generator (RNG) casino games only via the sites themselves, while sports betting and poker operators will be allowed more leeway to pimp their products.