Greek Casino and Card Room Gaming
To curb illegal gambling, the Greek government passed a law (3037/2002) banning all gaming machines located outside a casino. The final version of the bill also banned electronic and computer games played in public places. The ban went into effect in February 2003. Offenders faced fines of EUR 5,000 to EUR 75,000 and imprisonment of one to 12 months. The Greek Parliament stated that it stood behind its decision regardless of any negative effects the Greek economy may suffer.
The law was challenged by the European Union (EU) in October 2004 on the grounds that it was incompatible with the provisions of the European Commission (EC) Treaty. The EC made a decision to refer Greece to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) for imposing Union regulations on the free movement of goods and services. In 2006, the ECJ ruled the law to be in violation of EU market principles and ordered Greece to lift the ban, resulting in draft legislation to reintroduce gaming machines into the Greek market. This bill provided for 50,000 machines nationwide and three operators. Each machine is subject to a EUR 10,000 annual fee and gross revenue is taxed at 4%.
Operators William Hill, SportingBet and Stanleybet challenged OPAP's monopoly in a Greek court, which subsequently sought advice from the ECJ. In January 2013, the ECJ ruled that Greece's gambling monopoly was illegal and the Greek authorities needed to open up gambling to the market. However, the EU court said each member of the EU has the right to grant gaming monopoly rights to a specific company if doing so ensures the safety and consumer protection against crime and dangers of the games.
In late 2014, Greece's Council of State ruled that OPAP's monopoly was legal and fully compliant with all EU treaties.
In October 2016, the Greek government approved the roll out of 35,000 VLT machines throughout Greece. 16,500 machines will be operated by OPAP and the remainder spread in tourist and recreation areas.
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