Greece’s Gambling Industry Grows as the Country Tries to Rebound
While the Greek government fine tunes its longterm financial plans to avoid bankruptcy and comply with the requests coming from the European Central Bank (ECB), the European Commission, and the International Monetary Fund, the country's gambling industry shows some encouraging signs of growth.
According to a report released by the national Gambling Commission (Ε.Ε.Ε.Π.), the official data from 2014 showed that the industry grew nine percent from the previous year. This is the first time in five years that the Greek gambling industry manages to rebound, even if the contraction that it has suffered since the beginning of country's financial crisis has cut the market nearly in half, bringing the total revenues down to €5.9 billion in 2014, from the €8.7 billion generated in 2009.
The revenue growth recorded in 2014 was due by the fact that Greek citizens seem to have started to gamble more than during the past years, as the average spend per capita on games of chance and games of luck rose to €187, which marks a 7.2-percent growth when compared with the average of €172 wagered back in 2013.
As Greece's news portal Ekathimerini reported, the biggest chunk of the revenues generated by the industry went to the Greek Organisation of Football Prognostics (OPAP), which is the only company allowed to offer numerical lottery and sports-betting games in the country.
During 2014, OPAP's revenues accounted for €3.8 billion, which is approximately 64 percent of the industry's total.
The Greek Gambling Commission estimates that the growth of the gambling industry allowed the government to secure tax revenues of €525 million during 2014.
Greece's Government Plans to Double the Revenues from Gambling
As reported here on PokerNews, the Greek government is currently looking into a reform of the gambling legislation that would allow the country to nearly double the tax revenues coming from gambling.
In a letter sent to the Eurogroup, the informal body composed by the Ministers for Economic and Financial Affairs of the member states of the European area, Greece's Finance Minister, Yanis Varoufakis, announced that the country is planning to adopt a new set of norms to regulate online gambling and "grant the country extra revenues of €500 million a year."
Right now, the Greek gambling market is supposed to run a monopoly controlled by the OPAP, but a series of temporary measures adopted over the years also allowed 24 international operators to legally offer online games in the country through some State-approved "temporary licenses" due to expire once the new legislation is in place.
To increase the gambling revenues, however, Greece will also need to adopt some effective measures against illegal gambling and betting, as the Gambling Commission estimated that Greek nationals wagered as much as €5 billion on illegal sites during 2014.
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