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William Hill make tactical retreat from Greek market

December 6th, 2012 / lee
William Hill

Online betting site William Hill have followed quickly in the footsteps of betting exchange Betfair in pulling out of the Greek market. With new regulations coming into force by the Hellenic Gaming Commission, which targets unlicensed operators with legal action, including imprisonment for company officials, William Hill has exited Greece. Along with the new regulations requiring all operators of online gambling to be licenced in Greece, a severe levy up to 40pc tax would also be slapped on those who do get licensed.

Not only on future earnings would the levy be enforced upon, but also historical earnings by operators in Greece. While some operators like Paddy Power and SportingBet have decided to pay up to two years worth of back taxes on their operations in Greece, William Hill, like Betfair have decided not to, pulling the plug. Along with Betfair, William Hill are arguing the fact that the legislation which has been put into place by Greece goes against EU laws.

William Hill have gone to the European Commission to complain, because Greek state owned company OPAP, and online gaming operator, has been made exempt from the new taxes. Britain’s biggest bookmaker, William Hill, are arguing that Greece are displaying “protectionist behaviour” with the exemption.

However, this may not be the total end of William Hill’s trading operations in Greece, despite already pulling out of Belgium and Germany. Their withdrawal from the market has only been a temporary measure.  The online betting site explained in a statement that “William Hill believes that there are significant issues with the legality and enforceability of these proposals; however, until greater clarity is received, it has taken the decision to withdraw from this market.”

The British betting site expects to trim around £5 million from its annual operating profits following their decision. While the measure is temporary, a swift return does not look on the cards. Because of the financial crises in the EU, the European Gaming and Betting Association won’t be addressing the issue any time soon until the crises has first been resolved.

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