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GREEKS SEEM INTENT ON E.U. CONFRONTATION OVER GAMBLING LAW
Wednesday August 3,2011 : Special meeting called to expedite legislation that is opposed by the European Commission
The Greek government seems intent on disregarding recent European Commission objections to its proposed new online gambling laws, with new developments that appear to be targeted on expediting passage of the proposals despite the EC detailed opinion and the standstill period to August 8 that goes with it.
Last night (Tuesday) a special meeting of senior government ministers was convened for further discussion on the new law, possibly leading to a parliamentary vote Thursday which could effectively place the Greeks on a collision course with the European Commission and result in an appearance before the European Court of Justice on infringement proceedings.
The European Commission has already warned the Greeks, who are heavily dependent on EU and IMF financial aid in their current economic crisis, that the proposed laws for the liberalisation of internet gambling are not compliant with EU law on a number of grounds.
Greek finance minister Evangelos Venizelos has already posited that loan conditions demanding that the Greeks sell off the state's interest in online gambling monopoly OPAP in order to reduce international debt may be amended by instead generating additional revenues from the enterprise.
International operators are also disenchanted with the Greek moves, complaining that the 30 percent tax on gross profits envisaged by the new laws is excessive, and that the imposition of a 10 percent tax on player winnings is unlikely to enhance business.
Operators also object to a suggested six month ban on all operations in the Greek market before an operator can apply for a licence, leaving the field clear to OPAP.
European Commission reservations concern the enforced presence of licensees in Greece and the compulsory use of Greek financial institutions.
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