Greece’s Gambling Industry Grows as Government Eyes Economic Recovery

Published on Friday 8th May 2015, 9:26 am
Posted in: Casino Business

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The gambling industry in Greece has shown signs of growth for the first time in five years, giving the government hope that it could help sort out the country’s financial crisis. Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis stated in March that he hoped revenues of €500 million a year could be generated from online gambling.

Varoufakis’ plans were dismissed by some news agencies at the time as unrealistic, but a report released by the national Gambling Commission has now shown that the industry did manage to rebound in 2014. According to the official findings, total revenues for last year were €5.9 billion, which was an increase of nine percent from the previous 12 months.

The Greek Organisation of Football Prognostics (OPAP), the only firm in the country which provides numerical lottery and sports betting games in the country, received 64 percent of the industry’s revenues, a total of €3.8 billion. It is estimated by the Greek Gambling Commission that the government took tax revenues of €525 million for last year from the gambling industry.

Greece has been in a state of economic turmoil since going into recession in 2008 and the country’s gambling industry has not been helped by Greeks betting illegally. The Gambling Commission has estimated that around €5 billion was wagered on illegal sites in 2014.

A reform of the gambling legislation in Greece is being considered by the government and it could grant the country nearly double the tax revenues coming from gambling. Varoufakis first made his plans clear in a letter to the Eurogroup, which consists of finance ministers of the member states of the European Union, but his ideas have not always been well received.

The Eurogroup is growing impatient with Greece for not making any headway towards a bailout deal, and Varoufakis came under fire at a recent meeting in Riga for not reaching an agreement with creditors despite being given a four-month extension to Greece’s loan programme. He is reported to have been told that he was a ‘time-waster, a gambler and an amateur’.

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