If the European Commission fight ends amicably, this would be a positive catalyst for the slot guys.
Yesterday, the Greek parliament passed an omnibus bill which included the VLT/online gaming bill. While we expected the bill to pass in late 2011 (GREECE: DRAFT GAMING BILL SUBMITTED TO PARLIAMENT (3/21/11)), the fast-track status it obtained by clinging onto a broader legislation package was not foreseen. According to Greek finance minister Venizelos, Greece had to pass the omnibus bill before the EU/IMF audit team arrives on Aug 22. Under the bill, OPAP will receive an exclusive license to operate all 35,000 VLTs, operating 16,500 machines itself and sub-contracting the rest.
But it’s not smooth sailing yet. Greece passed the bill despite European Gambling and Betting Association’s (EGBA) and European Commission’s (EC) protectionism and discrimination concerns which violate EU law. All eyes will be on August 8—the deadline for Greek lawmakers to reply to the objections. If Greece fails to address the Commission’s objections, the EC could launch infringement proceedings in the European Court of Justice.
However, if Greece work things out with the EC on the gambling bill, here are the next steps:
- Bill sent to President Papoulias for promulgation and publication in the Government Gazette
- Setup of new gaming supervising committee
- Tender process