Greek casino officials voiced concerns earlier this week that the planned overhaul of the country’s gambling industry favors new casinos over existing ones. A draft bill that calls for significant changes within the nation’s gambling sector is currently under consideration by the Greek government.
Among other things, the piece of legislation proposes a new licensing framework for the country’s casinos. According to officials at operational casinos the new regulatory regime creates better conditions for new industry stakeholders. Gambling executives also oppose the implementation of different corporate taxes for operators of existing venues and for newcomers.
The proposed scrapping of an entry fee for patrons is yet another provision that existing casinos have received with discontent. Under the draft bill, already operational gaming venues will first have to be given the nod from the Hellenic Gaming Commission in order to remove the entry fee. What is more, they will have to pay a compensation fee, which casino officials deem too high.
The sweeping gambling reform currently under consideration by lawmakers allows for the relocation of six existing casinos and the construction of three new casinos on the Greek islands of Mykonos, Crete, and Santorini. All three are popular tourist destinations and the opening of gambling venues is hoped to attract even a greater number of international travelers and boost Greece’s tourism industry and economy at a time when the country desperately needs additional revenue sources.
Mykonos Opposes the New Casino Proposal
News have emerged from Greece that officials from all three islands have opposed the proposal for the construction of gambling venues on their territories. However, it can be said that Mykonos officials have been most vocal in their discontent with the proposed gambling expansion.
Local media reported recently that Mykonos’ mayor, Konstantinos Koukas, has sent a letter to Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras expressing the island’s opposition to the casino plan. In his letter, Mr. Koukas has said that the island has much more pressing issues to address, including the addition of more schools, hospitals, and infrastructure. The letter further read that only after these issues are solved, they could think about building a casino.
Island officials have also stressed on the fact that while the Greek government had conducted public consultation on the proposed casino expansion and the Mykonos municipality had participated in it, its stance on the matter had clearly not been taken into consideration.
Last month, the Mykonos City Council approved a proposal for a referendum at which islanders would be able to voice their opinion on the matter. Councilors also decided to launch a petition against the casino proposal and to authorize Mayor Koukas to take legal action in relation to the government’s decision to potentially authorize the construction of a casino on the island, despite the growing opposition to the move.
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