Greek Parliament to Vote on Gambling Regulation This Week
Later this week, Greece’s Parliament will vote on a draft of a bill that includes measures that would legalize and regulate an online betting and gaming market. The bill is designed to add sorely-needed revenue to Greece’s coffers that will also work to create new jobs and prevent illegal foreign operators from dipping into the local market.
During a recent debate on whether Greece should regulate iGaming, Kamil Ziegler, the CEO of gambling operator OPAP, said that any new measure should require provisions that curb illegal gambling services. Ziegler added that unlicensed operators collect between €300 million and €500 million from Greek players on an annual basis.
As of now, OPAP is the only operator of sports betting services and lottery games allowed in Greece. OPAP also operates in the neighboring nation of Cyprus. OPAP was initially run by the Greek government before it became a public company. It became privatized back in 2013, and it pays €780 million per year for the right to operate lottery games and open sports betting shops across the country.
The legislation, which will be voted on over the next few days, also includes a study that had been comprised by a research firm called Deloitte. The study says that tax revenue nearing €1 billion could be generated for Greek coffers within the next three to four years if the bill is passed.
The Hellenic Gaming Commission has also attempted to push for gambling regulation in the past. The Commission said that it seized over €5 million in illegal gambling proceeds from 2005 and 2015 and that more than 18,000 violations of the nation’s gambling took place during that 10-year span.
Push for Gambling Regulation
The new push for online gambling regulation in Greece has been led by the Greek Ministry of Finance. If it passes, the new efforts would allow for the licensing of local operators as well as the introduction of changes regarding the way land-based casinos in Greece are operated. The discussions truly started when Greek officials were attempting to come to a resolution on how to proceed with video lottery terminals.
Back in 2012, the Greek government chose OPAP to be the country’s lone operator of video lottery terminals. The operator’s license granted permission to put out 35,000 VLTs across its various betting facilities and to operate them exclusively for 10 years. The European Commission gave the plan the green light later that year.
However, OPAP still has yet to install said terminals due to a number of challenges. Land-based casinos have led the charge against VLTs, arguing that the installation would create a monopoly. Opponents have also argued that the easy access to the VLTs would violate a 2011 responsible gambling law.
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