The parent company of PokerStars, The Rational Group, has decided it is time to comply with Greek gambling laws, and has started to move players in the country over to a new .gr domain and introduce the new “withholding tax” introduced by the Greek government.
The move comes after the controversial new law was passed by the Greek government, restricting the abilities of online poker sites in Greece to pay their players their due winnings. The Greek regulators are yet to issue any new licenses, but have started the transition period by offering 24 interim licenses to companies, of which PokerStars is one.
The new gambling laws in Greece impose a 15% tax on any winnings of EUR 100 or more, and a higher 20% tax on winnings of EUR 500 or more. As such, PokerStars have moved to remove a number of high value tournaments from the new Greek facing site.
PokerStars isn’t the only Greek poker room, either, as Full Tilt Poker has joined them in setting up a new .gr website and obtaining an interim license to do business in the country. However, it remains to be seen if these new laws remain in place as they come under renewed scrutiny from the EU.
With the length of time it took the European governing body to react before, however, there’s likely to be a few years of high gambling taxation in Greece before any change is made. The EU recently kicked up a fuss over gambling regulation in a number of countries, but, surprisingly, Greece was not only the list.
In fact, Greece’s online gambling blacklist is still in operation, and still contains more than 400 websites. PokerStars are working hard to get one of their websites – the PokerStars blog – removed from this list, and are currently in discussions with the Hellenic Gaming Commission.