Greece’s gambling market showed signs of life in 2014, with gambling turnover rising for the first time since 2009.
According to the country’s Gaming Oversight and Control Commission (EEEP), 2014 saw Greek punters wager a total of €5.9b, a gain of 9% over 2013’s total. While the break in the five-year losing streak will be welcome news, 2014’s total is still well off the €8.7b Greeks wagered in 2009, right before the country’s economy truly began circling the toilet drain. The average spend per gambler was up 7.5% to €187 last year.
Former state-owned betting monopoly OPAP accounted for €3.8b of 2014’s total wagers, while its Hellenic Lotteries subsidiary sucked up an additional €500m (€88.4m via scratch cards). Together, the two firms accounted for 72% of the total spend. Casino gaming turnover fell by €100m to €1.6b, accounting for 27% of the total pie. The ODIE horseracing monopoly handled €65m, representing a mere 1% of the total.
The cash-strapped Greek government took a €525m cut of the gambling proceeds. EEEP didn’t break out individual stats for online gambling but the country’s new Syriza-led government recently announced it hopes to raise an additional €500m per year via the issuing of new online gambling licenses.
The government has previously claimed that Greeks were spending €5b per year on unauthorized gambling channels, including online gambling sites that offer a wider variety of services than OPAP. In 2011, the country handed out 24 temporary online licenses to international operators, only to revoke them one year later in a bid to bolster the value of its one-third stake in OPAP, which has since been sold to the Emma Delta consortium.