On January 24, The Finance Ministry of Greece announced a new gambling framework that will grant 50 online casino licenses as well as four to ten slot machine operator licenses by late 2011. The legal framework will open up the Greek internet casinos market to competition as well as supervision and regulation and is viewed as a positive step to combating organized crime controlled underground casinos. According to The Finance Ministry, the new proposal will be introduced to parliament “as soon as possible.”
Under current Greek gambling laws, gambling is controlled by the OPAP betting monopoly, which has been repeatedly attacked as anti-competitive under EU regulations. Under the new framework the government will collect 6% gaming tax from slot machines and online casino licenses, which in 2011 alone will surpass the EUR700 million revenue goals. Illegal gambling in Greece is estimated at 4 billion Euros per year after a complete ban on gaming machines was passed in 2002.
The law will stipulate that an international tender will be held to grant the 50 five-year online internet gambling licenses which must be operated exclusively through Greece-based websites. Bidders must be based or have a permanent presence in Greece and be a public company with capitalization of over EUR500,000. Each successful bidder for a slot machine license will be permitted up to 30,000 slot machines with a minimum 80% payout ratio.