The Joint European Support for Sustainable Investment in City Areas (JESSICA) aims to support sustainable urban development and regeneration by allowing member states to invest some of their Structural Funds into revolving funds to increase the flow of investment. These Structural Funds are the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the European Social Fund (ESF). The ERDF supports programs that modernize economic systems, create sustainable employment and economic growth, research and innovation, environmental protection and risk prevention. The ESF focuses on increasing the adaptability of workers and enterprises, improving access to employment as well as furthering social inclusion. This financial support, which addresses one or more of the EU’s policy objectives, is not a repayable grant.
JESSICA is an initiative of the European Commission's Directorate General for Regional Policy (DG REGIO) that was put together with the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the Council of Europe Development Bank (CEB). JESSICA is not a new source of funding for member states, but a new way of using existing Structural Fund grant allocations to support urban development projects. It is up to member states and managing authorities to decide how much of these structural funds can be channeled in this way.
JESSICA in Greece
JESSICA has been used in Greece to improve the energy efficiency of street lighting; business parks; urban transportation telematics system; new school buildings; waste projects and enhancement of the country’s historical and cultural heritage. Twenty-five projects have used EUR300 million, EUR115 million of which has come from JESSICA funds.
None of these projects would have been possible without JESSICA, mainly due to Greek Bank liquidity issues. The money was used for integrated, sustainable urban-renewal projects, through the use of equity investments, loans, and guarantees, offering new opportunities for the use of EU Structural Funds. The Telematics System for urban transportation PPP project was able to combine an EU grant, JESSICA and financial backing from private commercial banks. The social impact of JESSICA funding for new school buildings impacted 1.1 million people in a region of Greece, creating long-term job creation for construction workers over two years (337 new jobs) and 25 years employment for operatives (83 new jobs).
JESSICA also supports the development of entrepreneurship and the creation of new jobs in different regions. Projects include the creation of recreational services offline and online in areas that are growing rapidly across the EU. The upgrading of infrastructure makes projects particularly attractive for private commercial interests and the development of entrepreneurship, creating added value for the country, particularly with through a boost in employment through the creation of new jobs during both the design period as well as during its operation.
Economic aspects of gambling regulation in the EU
Apart from specific non-eligible items listed in the Regulations, JESSICA allows some flexibility in the management of projects, which means that ineligible expenditure components, such as some aspects of gambling, can be included as part of a larger, multi-sector urban project, but only if sufficient additional funding is attracted from external private or public sources, usually coming from private investors.
While there is no sector-specific EU legislation in relation to gambling services, there have been developments in gambling law within the euro area, with regulatory changes in some member states that have given permission to offline gambling service providers to expand their services online. This allows for international liquidity sharing that allows online gambling between different member states in online skill gambling, such as poker.
EU countries remain autonomous in the way they organize their gambling services, as long as they comply with the fundamental freedoms established under the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) and comply with EU law. The European Commission supports EU countries’ efforts to modernize their national online gambling legal frameworks (see the top casino sites), with the European Committee for Standardization developing a European voluntary standard on reporting in support of the supervision of online gambling services by national regulatory authorities. Within the EU there is also support from the Gaming Regulators European Forum (GREF) and the International Association of Gaming Regulators (IAGR).
Whilst the EU allows member states to retain autonomy in gambling services; reinforced regulations allow for stronger economic security as risks are lowered in relation to money laundering, illegal operations and gambling by minors and other vulnerable people. The money from taxes returned to the state and finances recycled, in the same way, that JESSICA funds are recycled to support progression in IT services and increased employment opportunities in the industry.
Changes in gambling regulation in Greece
Today, the legal gambling market in Greece is doing well, with Greeks gambling EUR6 billion in wagers, spending another EUR7.1 billion on the legal online gambling market.
The gambling industry saw significant growth in 2018 partly due to the dominance of gaming firm OPAP which began to use video lotto terminals (VLTs) which have begun contributing billions of euros to the company as well as to good causes including the renovation of hospitals; support to more than 100 academies for amateur sports, including an OPAP Sports Academy; support for 40 small and medium enterprises with the OPAP Forward Program and preventive health examinations in the community for children and the elderly. This links in with the aims of JESSICA to support new employment objectives and the recycling of investment finances.
Public debates on legislative changes to online gambling were initiated in Greece just a few years ago. Now online gambling is fiercely competitive, and operators have been offering bigger rewards to attract players to their games. According to recent data, licensed game suppliers have received bets totaling EUR7.07 billion, reporting gross gaming revenues of EUR391 million.
The growth in the market is a big boon to the Greek government. A reported EUR2.9 billion has been paid into the government’s coffers in 2018 as part of their share from the licensed gambling market. Income tax due to the government is not included as it is to be collected in 2019.