Following several years of declining revenue, the Greek gambling industry has finally rebounded showing an increase of nine per cent in 2014, compared to the previous year, according to results released by the Greek Gaming Industry Association (EEEP).
Having been adversely affected by the country’s financial crisis, which has seen the Greek government in negotiations over bankruptcy bailouts with the European Central Bank, the Greek gambling sector accounted for €5.9bn worth of bets in 2014, compared to €8.7bn in 2009. Greek gambling operator OPAP accounted for €3.8bn of this total. OPAP subsidiary Hellenic Lotteries generated around €500m. Together they accounted for 72 per cent of the total. Overall, revenues increased by 7.5 per cent, reaching an average of €187 per person, compared with €172 in 2013.
Greece’s casinos saw their revenue fall from 1.7bn in 2013 to 1.6bn in 2014. They accounted for 27 per cent of the market. The Greek sector has nine casinos in Loutraki, Mount Parnitha, Thessaloniki, Rio, Rhodes, Thrace, Halkidiki, Syros and Corfu. With the introduction of video lottery terminals (VLTs) at betting shops set to affect 2015’s results further, some casino operators are campaigning for the abolition of the admission fee.
Elsewhere, the Horse Racing Organization of Greece (ODIE) accounted for just one per cent of the total, generating €50m down from €65m in 2013.
The Greek state received around €525m in gambling taxation.
Greek lottery operator OPAP is predicting profits of between €800m and €1bn per year from its Video Lottery Terminals (VLTs) once they have been rolled out and are in full operation.
The company is pushing forward with its plan to develop a network of gaming hall under the brand Play in order to host the new VLTs.
OPAP plans to open around 660 Play gaming halls with around 25 machines in each, bringing the total of VLTs to 16,500. With permission for 35,000 machines, it is expected that the remaining 18,500 VLTs would be operated by subcontractors.
Scientific Games has signed a contract to provide OPAP with 5,000 video lottery terminals whilst Inspired has signed a contract to provide OPAP with 3,960 VLTs.
Greek gaming giant Intralot saw revenues improve by 20.4 per cent to €1,853.2m during 2014.
Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis is now looking at online casinos to help the country’s recovery with plans to issue new gaming licenses at a price of €3m ($3.25m) each.
He said: “On the basis of available market estimates, the overall market of online gambling in Greece exceeds €3bn annually. On fairly plausible assumptions, additional public revenue through the taxation of licensed online gambling could well exceed €500m per annum.”