The government’s plan to resolve all outstanding issues in the gaming market is in full swing.
On Monday or Tuesday Parliament will pass amendments concerning the contract between the state and OPAP as regards video lottery terminals (VLTs) and the relocation of the Parnitha casino closer to Athens. Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos is also expected to announce changes to the tax status of casinos, plans for new casinos on Crete and Myconos and the licensing process for online gaming services.
Sources say that changes to casinos’ tax status are top priority: The main aim is to reduce the tax rates so that a casino permit at Elliniko – which is necessary for the development of the plot of the old Athens airport – becomes more attractive to investors. The government has realized that tax rates over 22 percent serve as a deterrent to major investors, while also threatening the sustainability of existing casinos.
Greek casinos’ gaming tax liability ranges from 22 to 35 percent, but the new system will likely have a flat rate for games across all of the country’s casinos. Furthermore there is no doubt the entrance ticket will be abolished.
At a later date, the ministry will issue new licenses aiming at new casinos on Crete and Myconos that will upgrade these tourism destinations and cover a major market of visitors, mainly from abroad – a revenue source that has so far remained untapped. There are also plans for the withdrawal of permits from casinos that are loss-making or do not attract any investor interest. Reliable sources say this plan may well be put into practice by the end of the year.
The third intervention in the market will concern online gaming. The main idea is to force service providers to obtain an internet address within Greece, so that Greek punters who try to log on to their websites will be redirected to their Greek page (.gr). This will put them all under the jurisdiction of the Greek authorities and watchdogs.
These are the plans of Deputy Economy Minister Stergios Pitsiorlas and are expected to be implemented in the same period of time.