International casino investors could take another look at Greece’s gaming market if the government follows through with rumored plans to slash gaming taxes.
On Monday, Greek news agency Ekathimerini reported that sources in the country’s Economy Ministry say the government is preparing to table new gambling legislation in the next few weeks, which would include lower taxes on casino slot machines and gaming tables.
According to the report, consultations with gaming industry stakeholders have led the government to consider a mixed-rate system that would see overall taxes on gambling turnover reduced from the current range of 30-37% to 25% or even lower.
The government appears to have bought into arguments that, far from decreasing the government’s gambling tax take, the reduced rates will spur further international interest and investment in the gambling sector that will ultimately deliver higher governmental returns in the long run.
Last December, Greece approved a tender process for a new integrated resort casino on the site of the former Elliniko international airport outside Athens. The government simultaneously approved the relocation of the Regency Mont Parnes Casino from its current home at Parnitha to a more advantageous spot closer to Athens, although the venue must still remain outside city limits.
While the report referenced only casino taxes, it remains to be seen whether this tax reduction will apply to lottery and betting operator OPAP, which saw its gaming revenue tax increase from 30% to 35% last year. The increase was blamed for cutting OPAP’s 2016 profits by €57.5m.
This year saw OPAP begin its planned rollout of tens of thousands of new video lottery terminals, although the government announced in August that it intended to limit OPAP’s new VLT army to 25k units rather than the 35k called for in the original deal. While OPAP wrangled an extension on its betting license in exchange for the VLT reduction, it’s unclear whether the new slots tax reduction would also apply to VLT operations.