Santorini and Crete Prepare Actions against Proposed Casino Expansion

The Greek islands of Santorini and Crete have voiced opposition to the government’s plan to allow the construction of three new casinos on three islands, local media reports. The reports have emerged shortly after the Mayor of Mykonos, the third Greek island mentioned as part of the plan, sent a letter to Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras to express his discontent with the proposed casino expansion.

If the provisions of a draft bill currently under discussion by the Greek government are approved, this would allow for six existing land-based casinos to be relocated and three new casinos to be built on the above-mentioned three islands.

However, opponents of that latter portion of the proposed casino reforms was highly contested by officials of all three islands. They have been arguing that a casino venue would change the islands’ character and would bring a different group of visitors to the flock of tourists that vacation on them every year.

In a letter to the local council, Santorini’s Mayor Nikos Zorzos has said that his island did not need investment of this kind. He has further pointed out that the construction of a casino would bring irreparable consequences to the island’s “economy, culture, and social structure”.

According to recent media reports, Crete officials have, too, opposed the proposed construction of a casino on its territory, and have been gearing up to launch a push to prevent the plan from being realized.

The Growing Opposition Reportedly Elicits Changes

Local news outlet the Greek Reporter reported that the Greek Finance Ministry might be ready to compromise and present an amendment to the current draft bill that would allow for the future casinos on Mykonos and Santorini to operate seasonally (from March to October) instead of all year round.

The amendment will aim to reduce opposition to the planned casino expansion, which is hoped to bring additional and much-needed revenue to Greece’s coffers.

Casino News Daily reported over the weekend that the Mayor of Mykonos, Konstantinos Koukas, has sent a letter to Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras to inform him about the island city council’s opposition to the proposed construction of a casino. According to Mykonos’ top official, the island has much more important issues to solve, including the construction of more schools and hospitals. Only then, it will be able to think about construction a gambling venue.

It became clear in December that Mykonos councilors would also launch a signature gathering initiative to hold a referendum on the casino proposal. The island council also authorized Mayor Koukas to represent the island in its fight against the proposed gambling expansion. Mr. Koukas will also be able to undertake legal action against the legislative proposal, unless the Greek government scraps the casino expansion provisions concerning Mykonos in the draft bill.

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