Tuesday October 4, 2011 : Complaint lodged with European Commission on OPAP tax breaks
The Remote Gambling Association, a trade body that represents the interests of many major European internet gambling companies has lodged a complaint with the European Commission, challenging the legitimacy of new tax laws in Greece and how they give gambling monopoly OPAP an unfair economic advantage.
The Brussels-based publication Tax-News reports that the RGA contends Greek taxation on OPAP is "significantly more beneficial than that afforded to private online gambling operators."
"In particular, the complaint cites that following the introduction of the new regime for online gambling, OPAP would unjustifiably and favourably be exempt from the 30 percent gross profits tax on its offline land-based gambling products, a tax which online gambling operators are required to pay under the new law.
"Furthermore, the law also imposes a 10 percent withholding tax on all customers’ winnings with online operators, whereas the customers of OPAP’s land-based services are exempt from any tax on winnings of Euro 100 or less," Tax-News observes.
RGC chief executive Clive Hawkswood, who launched the complaint, said: “Despite the RGA having had a constructive relationship with the Greek authorities during the development of the new legalization, significant concerns remain about the viability and legality of the market under the terms of the new law.
“Remote operators wish to obtain licenses in Greece and to continue to offer Greek consumers competitive and well-regulated products. However the current unjustified fiscal favouritism being afforded to OPAP makes this extremely difficult and we urge the European Commission to investigate the new legalization for being in breach of State aid rules.”
Hawkswood noted: “We are fully aware of the fiscal pressures on the Greek authorities at present, but they do not justify the imposition of anti-competitive tax provisions which benefit the existing monopoly gambling provider over private online operators soon to be licensed in Greece.
"Not only does such action not conform with EU State aid rules, but if implemented, it will have a damaging impact on the private sector and associated growth and employment opportunities, as well as curbing competition and consumer choice. As such, we feel compelled to take this action and challenge the Greek authority’s favourable tax treatment of the part state-owned [the Greek government holds a 34 percent stake in OPAP] gambling operator.”