Greece’s long-delayed integrated resort casino plans may finally go ahead after the government unveiled its equally overdue casino regulations.
On Thursday, Greek parliamentarians debated a new Finance Ministry amendment to Law 4512/2018 that would establish terms and conditions for the operation of casinos. The new rules will be of particular interest to would-be operators of gaming facilities in the proposed €8b Hellinikon resort project on the grounds of the old Athens international airport.
The new rules establish a two-tiered casino licensing regime: ‘single-entry’ licenses would apply to operations tied to four-star hotels, would have a 15-year duration and would require minimum paid-up capital of €500k (rising to €5m after five years).
‘Wide-range’ casino licenses would require five-star hotel accommodations plus at least one major non-gaming draw, such as a golf course, convention center, marina and spa facilities. These licenses would be valid for 30 years and would require paid-up capital of €1m to start, rising to €10m after five years.
Greece’s existing casino operators will apparently have to re-apply to continue operating under the new system, and to enjoy the reduced tax structure that the government approved in January. Existing casinos will reportedly be given a deadline of December 1, 2019 to submit their new applications.
Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos told parliament that the proposals would enable the tender for the Hellinikon casino license to finally get underway within one month. In October, Greek media reported that only three US casino operators – Hard Rock International, Caesars Entertainment and Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment – remained in the Hellinikon license derby.
While these companies will welcome the government’s efforts to advance the country’s first major casino project, the 24 holders of Greece’s ‘temporary’ online gambling licenses are still waiting on the government to implement its new online licensing regime. Does the Finance Ministry have any other goodies left in its Santa’s sack?