Police handout photo
Illegal gambling at Internet cafes and unlicensed mini-casinos appears to be on the rise in Greece, with police making 300 arrests in 51 raids in the last fortnight of 2016 alone.
According to official figures from gaming watchdog EEEP, over the course of last year police raided 480 establishments operating unlicensed gambling terminals or illegal casino games and made 1,513 arrests, also seizing some 160,000 euros in cash.
Authorities have also seized hundreds of computers that were illegally used as video lotto terminals, or VLTs, which appear to be the game of choice for Greek gamblers.
Experts, in fact, estimate that illegal VLT gambling is one-billion-euro market that results in losses to the Greek state from taxes of around 300-400 million euros.
Police say that curbing the phenomenon is a difficult task as the fines for operating illegal gambling machines are extremely low compared with the profits that can be made. A case in point is an establishment in the center of Serres in northern Greece, which was raided eight times in under three months and found to be in violation of gambling laws.