Greece’s largest gambling services provider, OPAP, announced on Friday that the government would have low-price slot machines relaunched and Internet gambling in Greece properly regulated by May 2011. The gambling market in Greece is estimated to be worth about €5 billion ($6.13 billion) in taxable revenue.
The move is seen both as a response to the poor economic conditions in Greece due to the recent financial crisis and to criticism from the European Commission, who charged the country with monopolistic practices in Greek internet casinos. The national debt in Greece is at about €310 billion at present, and the government is also paying out another €31,500 to the European Union due to the violation of the EU’s free movement of services policy found by the EC.
The current government plan calls for €1.3 billion in revenue to be generated from new gaming licenses, royalties and taxation by 2012. The draft law is expected to be issued this month in Greek parliament.
In announcing the estimate at financial analysts’ conference in Greece, OPAP CEO Ioannis Spanoudakis pointed out the OPAP would be in the best position to take advantage of new Greek gambling laws, as the company already has some 5,000 sales agents in Greece.
Under the current form of the legislation, OPAP would keep its monopoly on sports betting and lottery wagering through 2019. The government currently owns a 34% stake in OPAP, which saw an 11% decrease in income for the first quarter of 2010.