he spokesman, however, declined to give further details on Malta’s objections. “Greece notified the EU about its draft legislation through the union’s Technical Regulations Information System (TRIS) and Malta provided its opinion on the draft legislation,” the spokesman told The Times.
An EU official said Malta was the only member state to object so far but the Commission had also sounded the alarm with the Greek authorities.
“It is clear that certain aspects of the draft law do not respect certain EU provisions particularly those relating to the freedom of establishment and the unhindered provision of services in the EU,” the official said.
“We have now decided to give Greece until August 8 to come up with its replies. If we are not satisfied we might even start infringement procedures against the country.”
Among the main issues found to be objectionable by the Commission are provisions in the draft law under which companies wanting to offer their services in Greece, even online, would be obliged to have a physical office in that country together with a financial guarantee from a Greek bank. The draft law also includes limitations on the number of licences to be given and specifies minimum capital requirements.
In the past years, Malta has been vigilant to make sure the EU’s gambling market remains as open as possible after many of the biggest players in the multi-million euro industry set up shop here, employing hundreds of locals in the process.
Just a few weeks ago, Malta was described by EU officials as “Europe’s gambling hub”, managing to attract hundreds of online gambling companies due to its “favourable taxation regime”.
Recent figures published by the EU show that Malta has the largest number of registered online gaming companies in the EU – 500 by 2008.
In that year, its share of revenue from gambling, technically known as Gross Gaming Revenue (GGR), amounted to 7.82 % of its GDP or 11 times more than the EU average which stood at just 0.68 % of GDP in the same year.