Greece Online Casino Guide

Gambling Industry Overview in Greece

The following approaches will be presented

  • Gambling legislation in Greece
  • Gambling authorities in Greece
  • Online casinos in Greece
  • and more

The history of gambling in Greece dates back to antiquity and developed until it has become an important sector of the local economy. Currently, casino gambling on the territory of the country is aimed primarily at tourists. On the other hand, web-based gambling activities has become increasingly popular over the last few years.

Contemporary Greece has created facilities for tourism related to gambling and regulates the market through the competent authorities.

Flag_of_GreeceAccording to Greek laws, gambling is permitted inside casinos only. All types of betting and gambling outside of a casino environment is strictly prohibited and criminalized by local legislation.

Overview

As mentioned above, gambling in Greece is permitted when provided in the casino venues, but not outside this environment. Currently, there are eight proper casinos on the territory of the country. Most of them are located on the islands, and especially on Rhodes and Corfu, which are some of the most attractive tourist destinations in Greece.

Opap LogoOn the other hand, the country has set a different regime when it comes to lottery and sports betting operations. Up to date, the exclusive rights to all lotteries and sports betting activities on the territory of Greece are being held by a company called OPAP.

OPAP was created in 1958, and became a publicly-traded entity in 2001. Currently, one-third of it is state-owned, while another one-third was acquired by foreign investors in 2013. OPAP has inked a contract with the Greek Government, according to which it is to own the exclusive rights for all sports betting and lottery operations until 2020 and 2030 for casino gaming, respectively. This makes the regime of sports betting and lottery activities monopolized.

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Relevant Legislation

Up to date, every aspect of the local gambling activities is subjected to Law 4002/2011. This is the law, which provisions set the rules and conditions under which all gaming and gambling services are allowed to be offered by operators in Greece.

According to the provisions of the Greek Law 4002/2011, the supervision, monitoring and control of the country’s territory is carried out by specially-created independent administrative authority called the Hellenic Gaming Commission (HGC). It consists of nine members, who are directly appointed by the Minister of Finance.

The authority was provided with the responsibility to regulate each and every gambling activity in Greece, which makes its part in the local gambling industry extremely important.

Gambling Legislation in GreeceAfter the Gambling Act of 2011 was adopted, foreign operators were admitted for licensing. However, there is not a large number of such companies that are willing to open casino venues in the country because of the fact there are no clear procedures on the matter of licensing procedures. In addition, the Greek Government has imposed a 30% tax rate, which is applicable for outlandish operators only.

This additional tax rate even became the reason why some foreign companies sued the country. In 2013, the European Union made an unfavorable decision for Greece, which Government is now considering ways to change these rules.

The terms and conditions for applying for a license in Greece are defined by HGC in correspondence to the Law 4002/2011.

Land-based casinos were supported by Greece with Law 2206/1994. There is no legal definition of gambling in the law, but the legal definition of the term could be partially extracted from Article 4(1)(a).

As mentioned above, gambling outside of casinos is not permitted. The practice was even criminalized in 2002 by Law 3037/2002. Under the provisions of Law 3037/2002, the country’s Government officially bans all types of electrical, electro-mechanical and electronic games provided in both public and private places on the territory of Greece.

The measures taken by the Greek authorities are considered as part of their efforts to gradually diminish and eliminate the negative effects of gambling over children and people prone to developing gambling addictions.

Online Gambling

Internet Gambling in GreeceAt first, the country’s Government was very much against online casino activities. That is why in 2002 Greece passed a law that prohibited all forms of electronic gaming. However, the Law 3037/2002 did not manage to make a difference between online gambling, web-based video games and land-based gambling machines.

The Greece’s attitude towards online gambling is very strict as part of its policy to try preventing people from developing gambling addictions.

For several years, Greece, like other state-members of the European Union, has been pressed to open its gambling market for foreign online gambling operators. Despite the fact that the Government took the accusations of protectionism to heart and some progress has been made in the area, the accusations still remain.

The laws of the country on the matter were altered and relaxed since then, but games of any kind are still not permitted when offered in public places.

Greece issued the Gambling Act of 2011, which in theory legalized online gambling. Still, no official implementation of the Act’s provisions has started, which in practice makes it useless.

Currently, online gambling services in the country can be provided by licensed legal entities. Companies that are registered in Greece and have regularly paid taxes on their profits, are allowed to operate on such activities. Games of chance can be provided by a certain company only in case it has been granted with a special licence for such activities. Under the Gambling Act of 2011, the Greek Government issued two dozen interim licenses to several gambling operators, including some of the largest and most popular ones in the world such as Betfair and William Hill.

The country, however, is still inclined to follow the regime of monopoly that is imposed in some sectors of the industry. The Greek Ministry of Finance started preparing some proposals that would help it monopolize the online gambling market in favor of the locally-based operator OPAP. The latter already holds a monopoly over the sports betting and lottery industries in the country and has been severely criticized.

The Greek Government has been pushed to revise its policies related to online gambling after a ruling by the European Court of Justice. Until that happens, the local citizens should better rely on the big international gambling websites that operate in the country and accept Greek players.

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