The land-based casino industry in Greece was thoroughly regulated by Laws 2206/1994 and 3139/2003. However, the applicable rules were characterized as fragmental, diverse, outdated and, in certain instances, individual to certain land-based casino operations, while the casino industry has been suffering a notable descent over the last 8 years due to the financial crisis in Greece. This, along with the need to adapt to the latest legislative developments in the larger European market, created the need for a more unified and coherent legal framework which at the same time would increase the competitiveness of the Greek land-based casino industry both at a European and international level, with a further aim to attract investments in Greece and to introduce a new entertaining and tourism concept that would attract high income customers.
Recently enacted Law 4512/2018 (“Law”) introduces new provisions (art. 357-378) concerning mainly the licensing, the operation and financial obligations of new land-based casino ventures in Greece, while Laws 2206/1994 and 3139/2003 continue to apply to casino ventures that were licensed and operate already under such laws.
Legal form of land-based Casino ventures (CVs): CVs must exclusively be established under the legal form of a societe anonyme in order to be granted an operation license. Their shares must be registered and their main purpose must be to conduct and organize games together with providing services in the cultural, entertainment and tourism sectors (e.g. hotels, conference centers, shops etc) and generally any activities of a social and/or public interest and always within the license or concessions granted. The minimum amount of share capital required depending on the type of license granted to a CV will be determined by a joint ministerial decision to be issued, following a relevant opinion of the Hellenic Gaming Committee (“HGC”) (art. 358).
Categories of land-based casino licenses: The Law (art. 359) introduces 2 different types of casino licenses depending on the criteria for each such type of license:
(a) the simple type (standalone) casino license with a duration from 10 to 15 years; and
(b) the wide range of activities casino license (resort or integrated casinos) with a duration from 20 to 30 years.
The casino license is issued by the Minister of Finance and may be renewed according to the provisions of the Law (art. 370). The HGC, following relevant application of the CV, certifies whether the CV (existing or under incorporation) fulfills the requirements of the Law for the commencement of operation as a CV (art. 362-365). CV’s that have already been licensed under Laws 2206/1994 and 3139/2003 may also be subjected to the Law provided they are in compliance with the relevant provisions of the Law (art. 369).
The procedure for the issuance of a new CV license is, in brief, the following (art. 357):
- issuance of the relevant town planning law or Presidential Decree to include relevant uses of land;
- issuance of a joint Ministerial Decision for the determination of the exact location of operation of a casino venture;
- issuance of an international call for tender by the HGC for the concession of a casino license issued within 6 months from the above joint ministerial decision. The terms and conditions of the tender are determined by the HGC (art. 361);
- final selection of the successful bidder by the Minister of Finance together with the HGC based on the satisfaction of the criteria provided for in articles 362, 363, 364 and 365 of the Law regarding the CV’s organization, necessary documentation, control of their operation, the integrity of gambling games, security in electronic and personal data processes, the suitability of its board members, senior executives and shareholders etc.;
- signing of a concession agreement between the successful CV and the Greek State represented by the Minister of Finance, followed by the issuance of the relevant casino license (within 90 days from the selection of the successful bidder).
The casino license is personal and nontransferable either in part or in whole
The CV’s operation, supervision, control, financial management, change in shareholding, financial and staffing commitments in general are governed by the Law, which outlines the fundamentals of the legal procedure that should be followed, with the HGC which ensures the compliance of the CV to such rules (articles 371-374 of the Law).
CVs should comply with the licensing and regulatory obligations provided in the Law as well as with the Gaming Regulation no. 4002/2011. Otherwise, the HGC may revoke the casino license (art. 375) by imposing the relevant sanctions (art. 376).
The Greek State participates in the gross gaming revenue of the CV as follows (art 374):
- 20% for amounts up to €100m;
- 15% for amounts above €100m and up to 200m;
- 12% for amounts above €200m and up to 500m;
- 8% for amounts above €500m;
A special annual fee of 1% of the gross gaming revenues is payable to the Greek State by the CV for maintaining the operation license.
General provisions governing the operation of CVs are also introduced by the Law (art. 378) which at the same time makes several amendments to Laws 2206/1994 and 3139/2003 (art.377).
For any further comment or query, please contact the KG lawyer you are in contact with or the Commercial/Corporate Law practice team.
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