Date: 6th November 2019
The Greek Parliament has voted the new Development and Strategic Investment legislation (Law 4635/2019). The new legislation includes, amongst others, a number of long-awaited amendments as regards betting and gaming in Greece, verifying thus the ascension of a new gambling legislative which is part of measures aiming at improving the country’s economy.
Online betting is explicitly included in the definition of games of chance which is regulated by the new Law published on October 30, 2019. Online betting is defined as the betting depending on a prediction from the participants/players of the development and/or final outcome of any type of event, including virtual ones (“Random Number Generator” events).
Two Types of Licenses
The new law further provides for two types of licenses, namely licenses for online betting and licenses for all other types of online games (namely casino, poker and poker variant), provided either live or through the use of a random number generator.
Applicants will be able to obtain both types of licenses and transfer of the licenses is prohibited. Each license shall be linked to one sole operator and the holder of a license may not proceed to offerings its license for rental or co-exploitation to/with third parties.
HGC is the competent authority to grant the new licenses within 2 months from the filing of each applicant’s request to obtain a license. In case HGC does not issue a decision granting the license to the applicant, this shall be deemed as an implied rejection of the respective request/petition.
Cost of the licenses and procedural issues
The applicants, when filing their requests, must also pay a fee amounting to EUR 10.000 for the participation to the proceedings and put up a guarantee amounting to EUR 500.000, as well as produce all documents mentioned in the law (published financial statements of the last 3 financial years, certificates of tax and social security clearance and certificates re active status and proving that there are no pending proceedings re bankruptcy, liquidation etc).
The applicable fees for obtaining a license are EUR 3.000.000 for type A licenses (online betting) and EUR 2.000.000 for type B licenses (other online gaming activities/services). Payment of the applicable license fee may be effected either in lump sum or in two annual installments. Payment of either the full amount of the license fee or of an amount corresponding to the first annual installment of the license fee due, should be effected before the issue of the license by HGC.
The licenses will be valid for a 7 year term from the day of issuance and operators may request for another 7 year renewal at least 1 year prior to the expiration date of the licenses. In case of a renewal of a license, the respective fees must be paid again.
The “affiliates” of the holders of licenses
A new notion is further introduced in the respective context, which is the one of the “Affiliates of the holders of licenses of online gaming” in Greece which shall be registered in a special Register and will be responsible for promoting online gaming activities.
Requirements to obtain a license
All applicants should be legal entities, have their registered office or permanent establishment in Greece or any other country in the EU or EAA and have a paid in share capital of at least EUR 200.000.
Members of the BoD of the applicant entities must have a clean criminal record as regards specific offenses mentioned in the new law.
Operators which were included in HGC’s black list at least prior to 1 year from the date of filing the request to obtain a new license are not eligible to participate in the respective proceedings. The Black List shall remain updated and in force under the new legislation.
Domain names of all websites must have to be registered with a “.gr” domain name. Applicants with registered office outside Greece have an obligation to maintain a “safe server” in Greece, directly connected to HGC.
Any intention of transferring or obtaining shares of a holder of a license equal to or more than 2% of share capital must be notified to HGC and any development that could lead to direct or indirect change of control of the license holder must follow HGC’s prior approval.
Holders of licenses must notify HGC of any new online game/betting to be launched in order for it to be also included in the already granted license.
Operators currently active
Operators currently active in Greece under the interim regime must apply by the end of November 2019, providing certain documents provided for by the law, in order to keep, temporarily, providing services for specific games which must be explicitly reported to the HGC. In such a case, they have the right to keep providing their services until 31.03.2020. Otherwise, operators are obliged to cease operating in the Greek market.
Operators currently active in Greece under the interim regime will also have the right to apply for the new licenses according to the aforementioned proceedings.
The Hellenic Gaming Commission (HGC) and all holders of licenses for providing online gaming services in Greece are subject to GDPR provisions and must comply with the respective legislation in order to prevent the recognition of the players through technical or other means which might be used by third parties.
For any questions and further information on the above, please feel free to reach out to Harry Karampelis at C.Karampelis@lambadarioslaw.gr.
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