(CN) – The European Commission told Greece it can no longer subsidize state-run casino and directed the gambling meccas to return about 10 years’ worth of improperly allocated aid.
The order wraps up an investigation, initiated by a 2009 complaint, into state aid for Greek casinos.
Until now, Greek law had different regulations for admissions to state-owned and private casinos. Both are required to charge 80 percent tax.
For admission to a public casino, a person would pay about $1.75, plus about $7 in taxes. But private casinos were required to charge $4.30 admission, plus $17.25 in taxes.
This distorts competition and trade, the EU’s executive body said, while also affecting trade, as many casino operators are international hotel groups.
The policy furthermore goes against a stated objective of discouraging gambling, as many low-priced state casinos neighbor large cities.
The commission ordered state-owned casinos to pay back the unfair subsidy, going back 10 years before the original complaint to 1999.
Publicly funded casinos in Greece may be compared with state-run gambling in the United States, such as lotteries.