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Greece Issues Online Gambling Ultimatum

Gaming Commission To Blacklist Unlicensed Sites from December 6

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The Hellenic Gaming Commission has given all unlicensed online gambling operators offering services in the country one month to withdraw or they will be blacklisted and face possible fines from €200,000 to €500,000 and up to 10 years in prison.

Twenty-four operators hold temporary licenses to operate in Greece but the regulator said its research showed many more companies were offering services and these would have until December 6 to stop operating in the jurisdiction.

In a statement the HGC said, “The Commission decided to issue public warnings within a period of one month starting as of November the 5th 2012, asking providers without a license to interrupt transmission of their websites in the jurisdiction of the Hellenic Republic.

“In the opposite event, after the expiration of this period, HGC will have to include those websites in a black list, resulting to the interruption of their transmission and visibility as well as their bank transactions.

“Please, further, note that, beyond the inclusion in the black list, the provision of gaming services concerning games of chance and betting without a license, is a felony leading entities and/or individuals involved, to at least ten years of imprisonment, an additional fine ranging from 200.000 to 500.000 euros as well as to the imposition of severe administrative penalties.”

The Remote Gambling Association, an industry body supported by major online gaming operators such as bwin.party, Betfair, Ladbrokes, Microgaming, Playtech, PKR and Paddy Power immediately indicated robust resistance to the move stating it would, “…seek through legal avenues if necessary at both EU and Greek national levels to challenge their imposition,” describing the HGC’s enforcement policy as “unfair and unworkable.”

Clive Hawkswood, chief executive officer for the RGA, said, “These measures have clearly been introduced in haste and we cannot believe that they have been approved by the European Commission.”

“They are blatantly protectionist in nature and if European Union internal market rules mean anything then the European Commission must take prompt action to make Greece reconsider.

“However, for obvious reasons, we are also looking at potential action in the Greek courts. Whether it is raised in Brussels or Athens, nobody could fail to note coincidence that these measures have been rushed through with a ridiculously short deadline at a time when the Greek government is actively looking to sell its share in OPAP, which currently has a monopoly in exactly the markets where our members would inevitably compete directly with it.”

Companies such as Sportingbet and bwin derive significant revenue from Greece.