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Strapped for cash to gamble? Head to the casino for a loan!

Legalisation of loan sharks among the omnibus reforms legislation

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24 January 2018

Greek casinos are allowed to grant loans of over 50,000 euros to players, in what is seen as one of the most controversial pieces of legislation to be passed in the country.

The omnibus bill of "prior actions", as are called the prerequisite reforms demanded by Greek lenders in order for the bailout program to continue, includes an article that banishes the previous law that forbade credit and discount in gambling, which was seen as a way to protect those addicted to gambling.

Instead, the Ministry of Finance replaced this provision with a new amendment that allows casino operators to issue credit of at least €50,000 το punters, so that they can keep on playing. In addition to that, 'Casino banks' will be able to store large sums of money and also foreign currency.

Despite the Greek government's reassurances that a strict framework will be set out to regulate these new 'Casino banks', specifically in what interest is concerned, critics say that this policy will in effect legalize loan sharks, sanction money laundering and nurture destructive gambling addiction.

The Greek government's argument is that this measure will allow for Casinos to attract major punters from Government officials qualified the measure as one that will aid in the country's growth, arguing that it will help bring major punters - particularly from Asia and the Arab countries - to Greek casinos, adding to the touristic exploitation of popular destinations such as Mykonos, Santorini and Crete, where new casinos are expected to open, alongside the one announced at Elliniko, in the southern suburbs of Athens.

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