Greece: Striving towards regulated gaming
An effective regulatory scheme had been much needed for the games of chance market in Greece. In March 2011, the Minister of Finance publicly announced that the annual illegal turnover of games of chance in Greece was estimated at about €10 billion ($13.4 billion), explicitly highlighting that this situation should be addressed by the Greek government. Law 4002/2011 reflected an initial attempt for regulation of this market. Since then, at least nine laws have amended or supplemented the basic provisions of Law 4002/2011. The role of market regulator has been undertaken by the Gaming Supervision and Control Commission (GSCC), an independent administrative authority established in 2012.
Almost three years since the adoption and implementation of Law 4002/2011, a new Regulatory Framework on the Operation and Control of Games of Chance has recently been published in accordance with article 29 of the Law (as amended by article 173 of Law 4261/2014). Contrary to initial expectations, this development was made by virtue of the GSCC's decision, and not by the presidential decree issued in response to a proposal by the Minister of Finance upon recommendation of the GSCC.
Despite the introduction of the new Regulation and the simplification of procedures, Greece is still a long way off its ultimate goal of a regulated market, which raises concerns as to whether all necessary and sufficient conditions have been reached. It is questionnable whether all suitable preparations have been made by the state with respect to the regulation of the market, or whether such regulation was imposed by the financial crisis.
Further the State numbers the special care required for the comprehensive regulation of so-called responsible gambling among the principal reasons for the delay. However, in no other sector of economy does the state seem to show the same sensitivity to monitor and supervise the responsible consumer behaviour. For example, there are no controls for consumers who buy expensive luxury products, even when they repeatedly and daily do so or they are apparently addicted to consume in an unacceptable manner compared to the average consumer.
Consumers' tendency to take part in gambling should not be prima facie characterised as an offence. Therefore, consumers deserve to be adequately protected by the state. The regulated market should be viewed primarily as a gaming market and not as a criminal market.
To this end, the recently introduced regulation does not require the player's gaming card to bear their VAT number, certainly creating a positive climate in this new emerging market.
Last but not least, the State should regulate the gaming market without affecting the basic principles of European law, such as freedom of establishment, freedom to provide services and fair competition. The State needs to provide a sense of security to anyone wishing to become part of the new order.