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Online Gambling News from Hungary and Greece

By: Adam Baker, Tuesday April 26th 2011
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Europe always produces mixed news in online gambling because different countries are heading in different directions. It was no different last week. Hungary's efforts in ushering a regulated online gambling regime were lauded, whereas in Greece the regulation was mired in difficulties.

Good progress has been reported on the Hungarian government's shift to a liberalized and regulated online gambling market, from the present monopolistic set up. The drafting of the bill is in an advanced stage and the government is listening to advice from reputed online gambling operators that are interested in the market. The pressure from the European Commission seems to be working in the case of Hungary. One of the critical issues will be the taxation. Taxation of gambling income under Hungarian law is a complicated process and potential operators are waiting to see what form it takes in the draft bill.

Meanwhile the monopoly gambling operator is gearing up for a competitive market. Earlier in April it tendered for a complete online gambling platform for providing online casino gambling and online sports book in one package. Bids will be accepted only from established operators until May 16. The three lowest bids will be made public on June 3 and the winning bid will be announced on June 6. Many international software providers are expected to bid because partnering the present monopoly organization will be the easiest way to access the Hungarian online gambling market.

In Greece, the online publication has reported that the European Commission has rejected for a second time the government's request for the consideration of its online gambling regulations as a matter of urgency. The review has been scheduled for June 6 based on the normal procedure. The economic situation in Greece is critical and the government needs the projected tax revenues from online gambling to materialize as soon as possible. The refusal of the European Commission to offer an early review could spoil the Greek government's plans to have a regulated regime in place this year. The draft law submitted by the Greek Finance Ministry expects to raise tax revenues of €700 million annually.

The problem in Greece is compounded by disagreements within the ruling party politicians. A section of the politicians claim that the proposed bill could turn Greece into a giant casino with people gambling in excess. Member of Parliament Dimitris Papoutsis told Reuters, "We should not go towards full deregulation of gaming and gambling." The politicians are also in disagreement over the future of the Greek gambling monopoly OPAP. The issues involved are what percent of the share should be retained with the government and whether the lucrative operations should be off in a privatization initiative.

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