Greek Gambling Market Worth $806 Million in 2017

Greek Gambling Market Worth $806 Million in 2017Since winning the Greek General Election in 2015, the Syriza Party has been implementing major reforms to the nation’s gambling sector in order to generate much-needed tax revenues.
This includes legalizing Greece’s illicit market in video lottery terminals (VLTs), with gaming giant OPAP currently operating 10,000 VLTs, but still leaving around 100,000 illegal machines located at coffee shops, internet cafes and other venues across the country, according to information provided by the Financial Police.
Nevertheless, legalization of the VLT market has resulted in a substantial increase in gambling revenue last year, with OPAP generating gross gaming revenue (GGR) of €409.7 million ($497m) during the last quarter of 2017, marking a 2.5% improvement over Q4 of 2016. GGR then increased by 4% to €1.45 billion ($1.76bn) for the whole of 2017, or around €458 million ($557m) more than that recorded a year ago.
Net profit for the year, on the other hand, actually fell by 25.9% to €126.2 million ($153m). Helping to account for the drop in OPAP’s profit was an increase in the company’s operating expenses, including the cost of having forked out a one-off expense of €22.8 million related to its video lottery license.
State Tax Revenues
The privatized gambling company historically accounts for around 70% of gaming revenues produced in Greece, and so naturally provides the bulk of taxes paid to the government. In 2017, for instance, Greece’s overall gambling industry subsequently contributed €662 million ($806.1m) in tax revenues towards state coffers, or €35 million more than a year earlier.
From that tally, OPAP paid €482 million in taxes, or an extra €16 million versus 2016, with the country’s land based casinos contributing €81 million, and online operators adding a further €98 million, or €23 million more than a year earlier.
However, Greece’s gambling black market is currently estimated to be worth between €6-7 billion, according to OPAP executive director Camille Zigler, resulting in a tax loss to the Greek government of around €200-300 million per year.
“In the last one and a half years we see an increased effort by the Greek state and its competent bodies to deal with the issue with more raids, seizures of illegal machinery. Last year alone approximately 20,000 illegal machines were seized,” explains Zigler.
Illegal VLTs
In 2017, OPAP reported €1 billion ($1.2bn) in turnover from its VLTs, with around three-quarters of its VLT growth attributed to the legalization of illegal operations. Giving an insight into the future potential of the sector, the increase in turnover noted has apparently come about through existing slots players shifting their attention from the illegal market to the legal one, with OPAP also preparing to boosts its offering to 25,000 machines once certain contract amendments are made.
OPAP New Initiatives
OPAP is busy introducing new initiatives to strengthen the country’s gambling market and make it more competitive by international standards, in accordance with its 2020 Vision. This includes increased investment and implementing changes to its core operation and infrastructure in order to increase its customer base and create “solid foundations for the long-term benefit of the company,” according to OPAP CEO Damian Cope.
In addition to VLTs, the organization is hoping to have both an online and over-the-counter sports gambling options available by the start of the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia this June, and as Mr Cope explains:
“Long-term, online betting is a big opportunity for OPAP. Several of our customers are already playing on the Internet, which means we have cultivated a close relationship. We are in the final stages of developing an online product that we are trying to make ready for the World Cup.”

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