Online Gambling Developments in Greece and DenmarkBy: Mark Freedman, Tuesday January 25th 2011
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There seems reasonable assurance that two other European nations, Greece and Denmark, will have regulated online gambling regimes in place by the end of 2011. They will join France and Italy that already allow some forms of online gambling.
According to reports in the Reuters news agency, the Greek government is moving ahead with its plan to liberalize and legalize the online gambling sector by the end of 2011. Government sources have unofficially confirmed that the bill will be voted on in the first quarter itself and that 50 licenses will be awarded by the end of the year. Simultaneously thousands of low stake video lotto terminals will also go on stream by the end of 2011. However there is no information on the details of the licenses proposed such as their duration and the restrictions they would function under.
Though the government has officially not made any statement, a government officer has revealed further details to Reuters on the condition of anonymity. He said that Greece expects to receive over €700 million from new gaming licenses and royalties in 2011 and another €625 million in 2012. These funds are desperately needed by the Greek government to pay off fines and to comply with the terms of the €110 billion bailout it received from the European Union (EU) and the International Monetary Fund last year. This will also stop the imposition of further fines.
In Denmark the licensing process was supposed to start in January 2011, but had to be delayed because of the taxation dispute. Last week the Danish tax minister, Troels Lund Poulsen, met the industry managers and informed them that the dispute will be resolved and the new online gambling regime will be put in place by the autumn of 2011. This meeting became essential because market rumors indicated that it could take up to two years to sort out the dispute. The minister stated in the meeting that he had met the EU minister for competition and stressed the importance of a quick resolution. He had been assured that the European Commission (EC) would act as fast as possible. The Danish minister committed that the government would implement the licensing process within three months of receiving the EC opinion. The tax dispute relates to the higher taxation rates for land gambling operators as compared to online gambling operators. This has been objected to by the land gambling operators.
The online gambling industry is aware of the adage that there is many a slip between the cup and the lip, but is keeping its fingers crossed. Another event that the industry is looking forward to is the incorporation of online casino gambling in the regulated regime in Italy.
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