Gambling, casinos, slot halls and online casinos in Greece
Gambling is legal in Greece. Nine licensed casinos operate in the country today. 24 licensed companies provide their online gambling services. Minors and people aged 18-21 are prohibited from gambling. OPAP S.A. is the Greek monopoly gambling operator that has the exclusive rights for a series of gambling and betting services in Greece.
Gambling in Greece
The Greek gambling industry has been growing rapidly. The gambling market offers two main categories of gambling – offline and online. By the Hellenic Gaming Commission’s estimates, the global gambling industry generates the gross profit of over EUR 300 billion annually. It is estimated that 90-95% of gross profits come from offline games. However, it is specially noted that online gambling is developing very fast (https://www.gamingcommission.gov.gr/index.php/paignia/i-agora-paignion).
Currently, casino gambling on the territory of the country is aimed primarily at tourists. Contemporary Greece has created great facilities for tourism related to gambling.
The Hellenic Gaming Commission, which regulates gambling in Greece, compiles and reviews a list of licensed white list providers which is posted on its website (https://www.gamingcommission.gov.gr/index.php/mitroa/white-list). The blacklist of unauthorized gambling providers is also given (https://www.gamingcommission.gov.gr/index.php/mitroa/black-list). These lists apply to all gambling services, whether they are land-based or online.
Land Based Gambling
According to the Greek gambling market statistics report 2017, total land-based gross gaming revenue amounted to EUR 1,634 billion with OPAP S.A. services contributing about 65% of the total revenue (https://www.gamingcommission.gov.gr/images/banners/Gambling-Market-Statistics-Report-072018_en.pdf). State-run OPAP is the only licensed operator in Greece which controls the monopoly on all land-based sports betting and lotteries.
OPAP S.A. (https://www.opap.gr/en/home) is the leading gambling operator in Greece. The company was founded in 1958 as the national lottery of the country. In 2000, the Company acquired from the Greek government the 20-year exclusive right to conduct, manage, organize, and operate certain numerical lottery and sports-betting games. The Company also acquired the exclusive right to operate and manage any new sports-betting games in Greece. The Company's exclusive right has been extended by a period of 10 years (until 2030). OPAP S.A. currently holds the exclusive right to organize and operate numerical lottery games (JOKER, LOTTO, PROTO, EXTRA 5, SUPER 3, SUPER 4, BINGO, and KINO) as well as sports and other betting games (PROPO, PROPOGOAL, STIHIMA, “Prognostika Agonon Basket”, and “Prognostika Agonon Omadikon Athlimaton”) (https://investors.opap.gr/~/media/Files/O/Opap-IR/27032019/press_eng_2018/FS%20ENG%202018.pdf).
The total number of video lottery terminals (VLTs), allowed to be installed and operated by OPAP S.A. in the Greek territory, is 25,000. VLT project started in January 2017. Until the end of 2017, a total number of 10,579 gaming machines in 1,497 premises were in operation. In 2014, HORSE RACES S.A was established which has the 20-year exclusive right to organize and conduct terrestrial and online horseracing betting in Greece.
The rules of casino games are given on the Hellenic Gaming Commission’s website (https://www.gamingcommission.gov.gr/index.php/ta-paignia/tuxera-paignia-kazinon-eidh).
Nine licensed casino companies operate in Greece today. These nine casino companies have been licensed to install up to 590 gaming tables and up to 5,863 gaming machines in total. Gaming machines include electronic roulette as well as slot machines (https://www.gamingcommission.gov.gr/index.php/oi-foreis-dieksagogis-tyxeron-paignion/kazino).
These casinos are located throughout the mainland and on the Greek Islands of Rhodes, Syros, and Corfu. They are mostly found close to big cities and popular tourist resorts. The casinos in Greece combine gambling with luxurious accommodation and sports facilities. The casino area consists of the casino's gaming space and the space where other ancillary facilities, which support the service of casino functions (restaurants, bars, etc.), are installed. Greek casinos offer all popular casino games, including Roulette, Blackjack, Baccarat, Poker, etc. The list of approved casino games can be found on the regulator’s website (https://www.gamingcommission.gov.gr/index.php/oi-foreis-dieksagogis-tyxeron-paignion/kazino).
According to national legislation, players must be aged 21 and above to enter a casino. The dress code is smart-casual.
According to Law 4002/2011 (A 180), online gambling companies which are legally established in member states of the European Union may provide their services in Greece. The temporary system has licensed 24 companies to provide their online gambling services in the country. License holders are prohibited from allowing people under 21 years old and non-registered players to participate in the games offered via their websites.
In October 2019, Greek Parliament approved the country’s new online gambling framework to revamp the Greek online gambling market, allowing the 24 operators who have been operating on ‘transitional’ permits since 2011 the opportunity to apply for full licenses until 31 March 2020 (https://www.yogonet.com/international/noticias/2019/10/30/51411-greek-parliament-approves-countrys-first-online-gambling-framework). Online licensees must operate using a .gr domain and base their servers in Greece. They are also required to store 10 years’ worth of data. Operators who were on the Greek authorities’ blacklist cannot apply for a license for a period of up to 12 months (https://calvinayre.com/2019/10/10/business/greece-online-gambling-significant-tax-hike/). The gambling operators that do not comply with Greek law have their Internet access suspended by Greek Internet providers, while Greek banks terminate any transactions with such companies.
The Greek Government still keeps a monopoly in the online gambling sector though OPAP, as the country has in land based gambling, but the new regulation will soon open up the online gambling market to foreign operators who would become licensed and regulated in Greece.