Foreign companies eye investment in new casinos

Despite the decline in turnover at Greek casinos, three investment proposals have arrived from abroad regarding the realization of tourism projects that include the creation of new casinos in this country.

Kathimerini understands that two proposals have come from multinational firms concerning the creation of new casinos at Fthiotida, in central Greece, and on the island of Crete.

A consortium that includes a Turkish group has also submitted a third proposal to Invest In Greece — the country?s official investment promotion agency — to build a casino on the eastern Aegean island of Chios.

Data collected by Kathimerini show that casino turnover in Greece declined by 23.6 percent in the first eight months of the year compared with the same period in 2011, dropping to 220.1 million euros. The size of bets shrank by 15.9 percent to 1.27 billion euros and the number of tickets contracted by 5.4 percent to 1,792,485. All casinos registered declines in business, with the exception of that on Corfu, which posted a rise in both bets and turnover.

Market sources attribute the drop mostly to the financial crisis as well as the operation of illegal casinos and illicit gambling in general.

The casino at Halkidiki in central Macedonia is looking into limiting its operations to certain months of the year as it has seen demand drop to particularly low levels for long spells. It remains unknown whether the owners of the permit to operate a casino in the northwestern town of Florina will be able to open it on October 1 as scheduled.

Casino companies are waiting for the changes that the bill on gaming issues will introduce to the market, such as the single entrance price for all casinos and the taxation of state gaming companies.

Meanwhile, the four-day 9th European Conference on Gambling Studies and Policy Issues opens today at Club Hotel Casino Loutraki, west of Athens, bringing together experts and about 300 companies in the sector from around the world.

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