In order to pull itself out of overwhelming national debt, the country’s finance ministry yesterday stated that changes to Greek gambling laws are now imminent. The ban on low-price gaming machines will soon come into effect to help create revenue for a government heading to bankruptcy and a draft of regulations for Internet gambling in Greece will be released in a matter of days.
“The regulative framework will soon be presented for public consultation,” read a statement from the ministry, as reported by Reuters news agency.
The original plan called for €1.3 billion in revenue to be generated from new gaming licenses, royalties and taxation by 2012 and no changes to these figures have been made. This revenue will go back to paying down debt incurred on the recent International Monetary Fund/European Union-funded bailout of Greece due to the financial crisis there.
Estimates of the size of Greece’s gambling market were recently estimated to be worth about €5 billion ($6.13 billion) in taxable revenue. The national debt in Greece stands at approximately €310 billion, and a fine of €31,500 per day was levied on the Greek government by the European Commission in 2003 due to the violation of EU free movement of services principles.
Two weeks ago, spokesmen for the former monopolistic gaming provider OPAP stated that the government would relaunch low-price slot machines and allow Internet gambling by May 2011, the former of which now seems likely to happen much sooner. In the current draft law, OPAP would maintain its monopoly status on sports betting and lottery ticket sales through 2019, whereas licenses to run online casinos in Greece would be issued by the government.