Greece proposes revamped iGaming licensing regime

Greece's finance minister Yanis Varoufakis has identified online gaming as a key source of revenue that will help revitalise the financially stricken country in a letter to Eurogroup president Jeroen Dijsselbloem.

Varoufakis claims that by opening up its iGaming market to foreign operators, Greece could generate up to €500m a year in tax revenue. He has made liberalisation of the market one of his main reforms to generate increased revenue as the country's left-wing ruling party SYRIZA looks to reduce the austerity measures imposed by the European Union.

However the proposal, which included a host of other measures, was rejected by the country's European creditors, who have complained that the measures fall short of fulfilling the pledges Greece made to secure additional funds from the EU.

Varoufakis explains that Greece's online gaming market is worth around €3bn a year, with around 24 companies currently permitted to operate under a temporary licensing regime. This system would be changed to an official system in which companies are licensed to offer their services through a single domain for a five-year period.

Licensees would be required to pay a fee of €3m to secure the licence, then pre-pay a minimum tax of €1m each year, with the sum to be deducted from their final tax bill. After the licence period ends, companies would then have the option to renew their licence, with the fee to be recalculated based on actual market data.

Varoufakis is looking to implement the system as quickly as possible, and plans to enforce regulations for payment providers within two weeks, which will see them given a three-month deadline to comply with legislation relating to know your customer and anti-money laundering processes. The process for awarding online gambling licences, as well as the formulation of the framework for the pre-pay tax system, will be established within two months.

Under the terms of his proposal, the country's online gaming market will officially open to private operators within three months.

While it remains unclear whether Varoufakis will still look to implement the measures after they were rejected by the Eurogroup, industry analysts have already voiced concerns about the targets he has set for the iGaming sector.

Eduardo Morales Hermo commented that with the UK generating approximately €330m in annual iGaming taxes, Italy €170m and Spain €80m, Greece could expect to generate between €25 and €30m in taxes, not the €500m forecast by Varoufakis.

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