Conditions have remained difficult for Greece's nine land-based casinos despite a reduction in gaming taxation that came into effect at the end of 2018, two years earlier than expected.
The changes saw casino taxes reduced to 20 percent from 35 percent of GGR, but added tough new licensing requirements for the properties.
An outright smoking ban, introduced in October 2019, has impacted trading at venues already suffering competition from online gambling and VLT halls with some casinos experiencing revenue declines of more than 30 percent in the final months of the year. Previously, casinos had been able to pay a per square metre fee to allocate smoking areas inside each property.
The showpiece Hellenikon Integrated Resort casino project in Southern Athens, where development costs are expected to exceed €1bn, has again become mired in legal wrangling after spurned bidder Hard Rock International confirmed that it would launch an appeal against the decision to exclude it from the process, that left only rival Mohegan Entertainment as a contender in the process.
A new Greek online gambling law is currently being evaluated by the European Commission to replace a transitional licensing programme that has been in place since 2011, but the new licences will be Europe’s most expensive and it is unclear whether any of Greece's land-based casinos will take the opportunity to seek licenses.
According to the teaser issued by the Hellenic Gaming Commission for the Hellinikon Integrated Resort Casino (August 2018), a stable recovery for the Greek economy is evident based on:
The land based casino industry in Greece was thoroughly regulated until recently by Laws 2206/1996 and 3139/2003, which on the one hand were characterized as fragmented and outdated and on the other hand needed adaptation to the latest legislative developments in Europe and to serve the need for a more coherent and unified legal framework that would increase the competitiveness of the specific market both at European and international level. Law 4512/2018 (including the relevant amendments in Law 4582/2018) introduced an attractive regulatory, tax and legal framework offering considerable incentives to attract new investments in the gaming sector and more specifically:
Furthermore, the Hellenic Gaming Commission has put the new operation rules for casinos up to public consultation (deadline January 14th, 2019).
Hellinikon Integrated Resort Casino Project
The proclamation of the tender for the casino license at the old Athens airport in the southern suburb of Helliniko is expected in early 2019 and will be handled by the Finance Ministry and a special inter-ministerial committee.
Hellenic Gaming Commission has made the necessary preparations for the process, extending its consultancy contract with EY and KLC Law Firm, and leasing the virtual data room for the tender to a British company in mid-December.
Relocation Mont Parnes
According to the financial statements for the year ended December 31st, 2017 issued by “Elliniko Casino Parnithas S.A.” the company decided in March 2018, following the legislation voted in 2017 permitting its relocation, to investigate the potential of the relocation of the casino from Parnitha to the Athenian north suburbs (Kifissias Avenue close to the Olympic Athletic Center of Athens), and is currently in the process of obtaining relevant land usage and construction permits.
Promotion of responsible gambling: Leaflets concerning gambling problems (self-test) and describing responsible gaming, in addition to leaflets about the gambling helpline (ΚΕΘΕΑ ) and the institution providing treatments for problem gamblers.
CHCL cooperates with ΚΕΘΕΑ (Therapy Centre for Dependent Individuals), which is the largest rehabilitation and reintegration network in Greece.
Self-exclusion: The measure allows immediate family members to exclude other family members from entering the casino.
The barring is applicable for a minimum of six months.
Also the Hellenic Gaming Commission has, on its website, an electronic platform called e-assos with information & tools for the people facing gambling problems.
Legal Gambling Age: According to national legislation, customers must be registered and over the age of 21 to enter casino gaming premises.
Smoking Ban: Although Greece has issued legislation imposing a ban on smoking in public places, authorities have repeatedly failed to enforce the established controls.
Terrestrial: Multiple licences (not capped)
Online: Remote gambling has been regulated in Greece since 2011 through Law no. 4002/2011. However, secondary regulation and a formal licensing process for remote gambling operators are yet to be completed.
Terrestrial: The list of authorised casino games is found in Law no. 2206/1994 and includes Blackjack, French and American roulette, baccarat, punto banco, dice and slot machines.
The decision 748/15.1.2007 issued by the Ministry of Tourism published in the Government Gazette (FEK 89/B’/30.1.2007) provided the regulation for the electronic roulettes.
The decision 9501/2.8.2010 issued by he Ministry of Tourism & Culture published in the Government Gazette (FEK 1404/B’/6.9.2010) provided the regulation for additional poker variations i.e. 5 Card Stud, 7 Card Stud, Omaha and Texas Hold’em
Online: To date, Greece has not established a dedicated list of permitted games to be offered on remote gambling platforms. However, secondary regulation, which still needs to be issued, is expected to clarify this particular area of the market.
Size of Illegal Gambling Market:Until now, the extent of illegal gambling in Greece has been studied and reported in a fragmented manner, which has been ineffective. Still, a number of recent surveys have ben conducted on the topic:
1. A survey conducted across Greece by the company ALCO on behalf of OPAP S.A. in July 2010, involved phone interviews with a representative sample of 1600 people and concluded that almost half of OPAP S.A. players participate in illegal games played either online or on gaming machines.
Market actors that participated in the survey estimate that the annual turnover of illegal online gambling reaches €4-4.5bn, while that of illegal gaming machines is €0.5-1 bn.Source Hyperlink.
2. A survey conducted in 2011 by ELTRUN, the e-Business Research Centre of the Athens University of Economics and Business, as part of the annual survey on ecommerce, titled B-C, which examined e-gambling and the attitude of Greek online consumers, estimated that almost 400,000 Greeks have gambled online (+25% since 2010), 100,000 of them on a regular basis.
According to the survey, a typical online gambler uses the internet 23.3 hours a week and is an advanced online consumer with an annual spending on e-shopping at €1,450.
On the question of player’s ages, it was estimated that 60 percent of the people participating in e-gambling are aged between 21 and 34 years old, while a significant part of online gamblers, i.e. 8 percent, are aged between 14 and 20 years old.
By this estimate more than 30,000 young people aged 20 years old or younger said that they had played casino-like games or placed bets on the internet Source Hyperlink.
3. A survey titled "Transition of Unregulated VLT Gaming into Tax-Generating Business & Socially Responsible Entertainment", conducted in 2014 by the Athens University of Economics and Business on behalf of OPAP S.A.
On the basis of that survey, it was estimated that 65,000 gaming machines operating in the illegal gambling market generate a gross gaming revenue of €1.3bn annually for the persons that operate them illegally. The average player visiting illegal shops with gaming machines is of low income, high school graduate, man, smoker, visits the shop he likes almost daily and gambles €100 - 150 per visit.
The vast majority of such players do not play any other games of chance. In particular, 80 percent of these people have never gambled online and more than 50 percent have never played in an OPAP agency.Source Hyperlink.
In the Hellenic Gaming Commission Activity Report for the year 2015 no data on illegal market activity was provided.
Market Protection Measures / Tools to Tackle Illegal Gambling:The Gambling Act permits payment blocking, website blocking and advertising restrictions to be deployed against unlicensed operators.
Currency : Euro
(Source:The World Bank)
GNI (2014, Local Currency, Millions): 1,75,087
Internet Penetration (Internet Users):63.2%
(Source: The World Bank)
Mobile Penetration (Mobile Cellular Subscriptions): 115%%
(Source: The World Bank)
Doing Business Ranking (June 2015):60
(Source: World Bank Group)
Last Updated: May 2019