The rollout of Greek operator OPAP’s first wave of VLTs has been delayed following new stipulations from the Hellenic Gaming Commission on how the machines must work.
The delay, which will affect companies such as Scientific, IGT, Inspired and Synot are also expected to cost the troubled Greek economy millions of euros.
OPAP has said it needs more time to make sure its VLTs are compliant with new rules introduced on June 12, which include lower jackpot levels, daily loss limits and length of play time allowed.
OPAP said: “The new regulation, decided by the Gaming Commission only a few days prior to the scheduled launch of the VLTs, and without prior consultation with OPAP, contains a number of unprecedented restrictions, which defy international best practices of responsible gaming, render the project no longer economically viable and contain technical requirements that make timely implementation impossible. In any case, OPAP assures its investors, its partners and its employees that it remains absolutely focused on its investment and shall continue to take all appropriate actions to arrive at a reasonable and balanced regulatory framework that secures public interest and public revenues and at the same time allows the economic viability of the VLT business for OPAP and its operators.”
The government believes VLTs could generate €38.7m in tax revenue in 2015 and €225m in 2016.
The new stipulations limit daily loss limit to €80 a player and restrict the amount of time people can play to 10 hours a week and 32 hours a month. Maximum jackpots have been reduced to €20,000 from the previous €100,000.
OPAP wanted to have 16,000 VLTs in operation in its own Play branded gaming halls by the end of 2015 with a further 19,000 available to sub-contracted operators.
Eilers Research believes regulators could yet reach an understanding with OPAP due ot the government’s need to generate extra revenues.
Eilers Principal Todd Eilers said: “The delay doesn’t have anything to do with the current debt crises other than maybe OPAP playing hardball with the regulators hoping that they will cave because they need the new tax revenue. We still believe the VLT market will move forward and its represents a sizable growth opportunity for vendors.”
Union Gaming Group analyst Christopher Jones added: “Given the ongoing uncertainty around the future of Greece, let alone the standing government of Greece, it stands to reason that the near term outlook for the Greek video lottery terminal market is now in question.”