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Legalization of Illegal Gambling Boosts Greece Tax Revenue

The illegal profits generated of land-based gambling operations in Greece are being turned to legal, boosting local public coffers.

According to media reports, the turnover generated by the gambling giant OPAP in 2017 by the so-called video lottery terminals (VLTs) alone amounted to approximately €1 billion. The massive amount, however, has not been generated by new players who have chosen VLTs as a favourite form of gambling, but mostly thanks to the fact that the existing illegal market in the country has been slowly but surely legalized.

Gambling market experts have estimated that over 75% of the official growth marked in the video lottery terminals profits have been generated due to the legalization of illegal gambling operations. This, on the other hand, has brought considerable revenues into the country’s Treasury. Reportedly, the Greek gambling industry contributed a total of €662 million in gross gaming revenue (GGR) taxes in 2017, with the figure representing an increase with approximately €35 million in comparison to the amount brought by the local gambling sector in 2016.

The above-mentioned tax is imposed on the service providers’ revenues at an almost 30% rate. In comparison, six year ago, that tax rate was almost 0%, while about three years ago it was only paid by OPAP and casino operators. The tax amount paid by OPAP is estimated to 70% of gaming revenues of the state. Last year, a total of €482 million in GGR tax were paid by the operator, while the amount paid by all online operators totaled €98 million. The GGR tax paid by local casinos amounted to €81 million.

OPAP VLTs’ Number Expected to Increase to 25,000

When it comes to video lottery terminals, for the time being OPAP operates about 10,000 machines in Greece. However, this figure is expected to swell to approximately 25,000 following the operator’s contract amendment.

According to the Financial Police reports, the number of illegal video lotto machines which are currently operated on the territory of the country exceeds 100,000. The competent authorities are being confiscating VLTs situated in special hidden spots in internet cafés, cafeterias and other venues on a daily basis.

Last year, a proposal concerning the video lottery terminals operated by OPAP was made by the Greek Ministry of Finance. Despite previously approving a total of 35,000 VLTs to be operated by the company, the Ministry made another proposal, with a bill allowing only 25,000 VLTs to be rolled out by OPAP being introduced to the local Government at the beginning of August.

The bill was presented as part of the relevant gambling regulators to make industry monitoring not only easier, but also more efficient.

Back in 2017, OPAP provided sports betting and lottery services in over 5,700 betting outlets in Greece and in the Republic of Cyprus. For a few years now, the company has been focused on starting its planned VLTs expansion, but under the latest updates brought to the regulatory regime by local authorities, the operator was set to release the gaming machines by May 2018.

 Author: Harrison Young

Harrison Young is an experienced writer, who started his career almost 8 years ago. Prior to joining our team at CasinoGamesPro, he worked as an editor for a small magazine.