Illegal gambling in Greece a 5-billion-euro industry, says transparency chief

More that 5 billion euros are played a year in illegal bets in Greece, the general secretary for transparency, Giorgos Sourlas, told newly appointed Public Order Minister Vassilis Kikilias during a meeting in Athens on Tuesday.

Sourlas called for a concerted crackdown on illegal gambling operations, which he estimates take in more than 5 billion euros a year, "harming the national economy and acting as a mechanism for laundering ill-gotten gains."

Sourlas told the minister that following consultations with the head of the Hellenic Gaming Commission (EEEP), Evgenios Giannakopoulos, measures are being introduced "which make us optimistic that an end will be put to organized crime rings operating without constraint."

In an interview with Kathimerini last month, Giannakopoulos said that the legal market has seen turnover drop from 8.7 billion euros in 2009 to 5.5 billion in 2013, posting a decline of about 35 percent. The same occurred in gross profits, which dropped from 2.5 billion euros in 2009 to 1.5 billion last year.

"In the illegal market, EEEP figures estimate there are between 60,000 and 100,000 illegal gaming machines at non-licensed gambling spots, and a conservative guess puts their turnover at between 4 and 5 billion euros. Their gross profits should come to 1.5 billion, not including online gambling, which had a turnover of about 1 billion euros," he admitted.