The cash-strapped Greek government turns to gambling as a potential source of revenue. To generate more money for state coffers, they chose to legalize the previously unregulated land-based gambling operations. This was a slow and tedious process, but the results were worthwhile, as a lot of money was generated by video lottery terminals in 2017. The giant gambling company OPAP brought roughly €1 billion and did so by tapping almost exclusively into the amounts generated by existing customers.
Illegal gambling operations were widespread in Greece and now that the industry is regulated, it generates revenue for the national treasury. The state imposes a tax of almost 30% on the revenues generated from gaming operations, significantly more than what it charges other industries. The process of regulating land-based gambling took a couple of years, but today not only casino operators and OPAP pay the tax, but all operators. The online gaming industry is also expanding, but it generates less money.
Optimistic Forecast for the Gambling Industry
The legalization of land-based gambling didn’t hurt the industry, but made it a safer place for players. OPAP are by far the largest operators, with 10,000 video lottery terminals and they expect the number to surge to 25,000. To put things into perspective, the Greek Financial Police estimates that there are more than 100,000 illegal VLT machines operational nationwide. The authorities confiscate these devices every day, but there are so many of them that the process is time-consuming.
OPAP was hoping that the Ministry of Finance will approve an expansion of its VLTs to as many as 35,000 machines. This was initially the agreement, but the government reneged and only licensed an additional 15,000 machines. If everything goes according to the plan, the gambling operator will be able to expand its lineup to 25,000 VLTs in early August 2018. This expansion in conjunction with the fact that illegal ventures are shut down should consolidate OPAP’s position as a market leader.
The Greek gambling market is on a constant expansion and local players enjoy everything from sports to lottery games. OPAP is well versed in providing both and has bookmaker outlets in both Greece and Cyprus. VLTs represent an integral part of their business and the most important source of revenue.