Greece To Charge €5M Per Gambling License Under New Licensing Framework

Greece To Charge €5M Per Gambling License Under New Licensing Framework

Last week, Greece finally revealed details of its new legislative framework which seeks to overhaul and expand the country’s gambling industry. While the licensing regime has been greeted with consternation by operators, there will be a one month long consultation period held in which the proposals put forward can be explored further, after which they will be sent to the European Commission for review.

It should then take the EU legislative institution up to four months to complete their assessment, and all being well, Greece should be in a position to vote upon the legislation in 2019, and start issuing gaming licenses by the year’s end.

€5 Million License Fee

There are currently 24 online operators legally offering their gambling products in Greece through the ‘transitional permits’ granted to them by the Greek government. Last year, they subsequently generated a collective €5.3 billion in turnover, marking a €300 million improvement on the previous year.

If the new licensing regime is approved, however, they will have fork out €4 million apiece to receive an online sports betting license, with another €1 million fee required in order to cover a range of other online gambling products, such as casino games and poker. There are also a number of stipulations associated with the process, including paying a €10,000 fee per license application, making a €500k deposit, and submitting financial records covering the past three years.

Acceptable Applicants

Not everyone will be permitted to apply for a gambling license, though. Any company that has been added to the country’s list of blacklisted operators 12 months prior to submitting an application, for instance, will not be accepted. This will automatically exclude the 2,708 online gambling websites currently blacklisted by the Greek Gambling Commission, which includes the likes of 888 Holdings, Ladbrokes, Betsson AB, GVC Holdings, Evoke Gaming, Nektan, and Videoslots.

Furthermore, any entity applying for a license must also hold a gambling license in at least another European Union country. This will in turn satisfy a requirement to hold a registered office in Greece or a different EU states, while those operators with a headquarter outside of the country will need to have a server based within Greece.

New Variable Tax Rate

According to the new gambling framework, individual gamblers will not be required to pay tax on any winnings less than €100, after which a variable tax rate will apply. Between €100-€500 this will be set at 15%, rising to a cap of 20% on any winnings above €500.

As far as the gambling firms themselves are concerned, there is no indication that the high 35% tax rate on revenues envisioned in the government’s original plan will be altered.

Casino Tendering Process

In other gambling industry related news from Greece, next month the government is set to open the bidding process to build a huge integrated casino in the capital city of Athens. Greece currently has nine casinos spread out across the country, two of which are in Athens. Nothing is on the scale of the development planned on the site of the former Ellinikon International Airport, though, which will cover a 15,000 square-meter area.

There are presently no integrated casino resorts in Europe, which would make the exciting project a first of its kind for the continent. That said, Melco International Development Ltd is in the process of building a €500-million resort in the Republic of Cyprus called the City of Dreams Mediterranean, which is expected to open in Limassol by 2021.

According to the Hellenic Gaming Commission, Melco is also one of the five companies also interested in bidding for the casino tender in Athens, with the others including Caesars Entertainment, Hard Rock International, Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment, and Las Vegas Sands. Commenting upon the exciting development, Lamda Development, which is carrying out urban development on a 600,000-square-meter area covering Athens’ former airport, stated:

“[The casino will] substantially contribute to the repositioning of Athens as one of the major world-class tourist destinations as it will provide a significant number of new units as well as thematic tourism venues, [which is] expected to attract at least 1 million new tourists, significantly reduce seasonality and at the same time increase the average stay over and spending of tourists in Athens.”

Greece’s Gambling Market

On Thursday, the Gaming Supervision and Control Commission (EEEP) released the latest government statistics covering the country’s gambling market. According to the report, Greek residents spent €6.01 billion on all types of land-based gambling last year, representing an 8.7% increase on the previous year, and resulting in revenues of €1.63 billion (+2.3%) for the industry. An additional €5.28 billion was also recorded in online sports betting turnover in 2017, up from €5 billion in 2016, while online revenue came in at €280.6 million.

Nevertheless, analysts have estimated that a further €5 billion is wagered each year on unauthorized gambling sites, which would push the industry’s total gambling spend up to €16 billion. Considering the huge size of the market, despite less than 11 million people living in the country, its not difficult to see why Greece has been attracting so much attention from gambling operators around the world.