Greece is a nation of stone-cold degenerate gamblers, according to the government’s latest statistics.
Figures released Thursday by the Gaming Supervision and Control Commission (EEEP) showed Greek citizens spent €6.01b on all forms of land-based gambling in 2017, an 8.7% rise on 2016’s total. Last year’s land-based gross gambling revenue was up 2.3% to €1.63b.
Greek lottery and betting monopoly OPAP claimed nearly €4b of this turnover, while other lotteries contributed €458m and the Athens racetrack handled a mere €41m.
The nation’s nine casinos generated spending of €1.582b, essentially flat from 2016’s €1.577b while revenue came in at €253.3m. But the casinos managed to hold fast despite casino visitation falling 4.4% year-on-year to 2.45m and the total number of gaming options (slots, tables, terminals, etc.) falling 3.46%.
Online sports betting turnover was nearly as vast as the terrestrial gambling total, with the 24 companies that continue to operate under Greece’s so-called ‘transitional’ permits handling €5.28b last year, up from €5b the year before, while online revenue was a comparatively modest €280.6m.
Greece still hasn’t given those 24 operators any firm timeline for when the government will get around to issuing its permanent online gambling licenses. Whenever this license derby gets underway, interest is expected to be keen, despite the proposed 35% tax on online gambling revenue (and the odd outrageous back-tax demand).
Officially, the Greek market’s overall gambling spending exceeded €11b, which is pretty impressive considering the population is only around 11m, making per capita annual gambling spend around €1000 for every Greek man, woman and child. And this in a country with (officially) 20% unemployment.
It gets worse. Estimates have put Greek punters’ annual turnover with unauthorized gambling sites at another €5b, so that’s €16b in total gambling spending. You start to see why operators are so keen on Greece, and also why it was the last Eurozone country to stop accepting fiscal bailouts.
News of this €5b in untaxed spending prompted some local opposition politicians to once again press the government to explain its delay in enacting its new online gambling licensing regime. But these same pols made this same request in April to absolutely no response whatsoever, so beware Greeks bearing ultimatums.