As one of several European countries which have had to be bailed out due to the recession, Greece continues to suffer economically and as a result the country’s casinos are facing into their fifth year of a reduction in revenue. As well as a drop in revenue, there has also been a reduction in the number of clients playing in Greek casinos. Compared to the results for 2012 for the first eight months of the year, income from gambling in Greece’s land based casinos is down by almost 10 per cent.The Greek government has been in trouble with the European Commission over what outside online casino operators look on as protectionist moves.
As well as giving the monopoly for online casinos to the Greek state controlled OPAP for a number of years, the authorities also demand that any outside online casino operators have a Greek licence even if they already have a recognised European gaming licence. These actions have been contested at European level by casino groups from outside Greece. In land based casinos there has been disagreement also since private casinos have been subject to an entry tax of 12 euros for players in privately owned casinos. The European Commission has said that such a tax is illegal since it amounts to indirect state aid.Better results would have been expected from the country’s land based casinos since for some time the government has been concentrating on closing down illegal gambling establishments.
This year’s closure of unlicensed illegal casinos looks as if so far, the year’s result will be similar to the number of a thousand illegal operations shut down by the authorities in 2012. Legal land based casinos in Greece face great competition from the illegal casinos which can bring in huge amounts for their owners and nothing in tax revenue for the Greek government. By their very nature, the illegal casinos also cause the licensed casinos to continue suffering a downturn in both income and also in the number of clients visiting them.