Mid-March saw two major developments in the online gambling industry in two European nations – Greece and Italy. On one hand, Greece sought to garner greater revenues by unveiling new steps in online gambling legislation. On the other hand, Winamax, a giant operator in the world of online gambling, has decided to shut shop in Italy.
The big bet
In a bid to keep a bailout at bay and ensure the continued flow of aid from the European Union, Greece is looking to ease up regulations on online gambling. This move is expected to bring in annual revenues of around EUR 500 million.
Although the finer details are yet to be revealed, Greece’s Finance Minister, Yanis Varoufakis, has shot off a letter to the Eurogroup. In it, he promises the advisory body that he will open up revenue streams for Greece through online gambling.
Critics and experts, however, deem that the finance minister’s estimate of EUR 500 million is a highly exaggerated one. In the current scenario, reports say, Greece’s online gambling industry generates gross revenues somewhere between EUR 160 – 240 million. Taxing this will bring revenues that are nowhere close to the EUR 500 million marks.
In the same week, Winamax, a major online poker platform in France, has decided to end its Italian operations. Online gambling operators in Italy are required to carry a license issued by the AAMS body. Winamax has never possessed the license even though scores of Italians took advantage of a loophole in its registration process to log on and gamble.
However, this March, Winamax issued a notice to all its Italian players informing them that their accounts would be closed. Players were also informed that the lack of supportive legislation had led to the closure of the operation, with immediate effect, but promised that if the rules were to relax, players would be granted access to the platform again.