ECONOMY

Greek casinos see annual turnover nosedive

Annual turnover at Greece’s nine licensed casinos has shrunk by half a billion euros over the past seven years, mainly due to the economic crisis but also to the growth of illegal gambling.

According to estimates, turnover at the casinos of Loutraki, Mount Parnitha, Thessaloniki, Rio, Rhodes, Thrace, Halkidiki, Syros and Corfu came to 270 million euros in 2014, down 10 percent compared to the previous year, when it came to 300 million euros. This is a far cry from their best year in 2007, when they saw turnover hit 776.7 million euros.

In 2008, turnover fell to 744 million euros, in 2009 to 626 million, in 2010 to 513.4 million, in 2011 to 419.7 million and in 2012 to 330.2 million. Notably, the combined turnover at all nine casinos in 2014 was the same as that at Loutraki alone in 2007.

Turnover between 2007 and 2013 shrank most at the casino in Halkidiki, northern Greece (92.5 percent), followed by those in Thrace, also in northern Greece (74.7 percent), on the Cycladic island of Syros (71.2 percent), in the seaside resort of Loutraki, near Corinth (70.8 percent), the western town of Rio (68.3 percent), the northern port city of Thessaloniki (54.9 percent), at Athens’s Mont Parnes Casino on Mt Parnitha (51.5 percent) and on the southeastern Aegean island of Rhodes (50.2 percent). The casino that has fared the best is that on the northern Ionian island of Corfu, whose turnover in the seven-year period has declined by “just” 27.9 percent.

The outlook for 2015 is not promising, especially as casinos are bracing for serious competition from a law allowing the introduction of video lottery terminals (VLTs) at betting shops which comes into effect in spring. To offset some of the losses from the new games, casinos are pushing for an abolition of the admission fee.

The amount of money placed on bets at casinos also recorded a decline of 5.5 percent in 2014, dropping to 1.4 billion euros in the January-November period from 1.5 billion euros in the same period last year. In those 11 months, the nine casinos issued 2.3 million admission tickets compared to 2.4 million over the same period in 2013. Meanwhile, almost 60 percent of turnover came from slot machines, confirming that gamblers are spending less money than in the past. Further evidence is that the number of players to book private VIP games has dropped by 90 percent since 2007.

The reduction in turnover is not bad only for business, but for the economy too as the state collects a percentage of casino earnings.

In the January-November period, recent data have shown that:

Turnover at Loutraki fell 22.3 percent to 57.1 million euros and bets 15.8 percent to 365.5 million. At Mont Parnes, the decline in turnover came to 1.5 percent (82.3 million) and bets also to 1.5 percent (474 million). At Thessaloniki turnover was 8.3 percent less at 66.3 million), with bets coming to 407.5 million, or 4.3 percent down. The Rio casino saw turnover shrink 1.9 percent to 11.9 million and bets by 5.8 percent to 50.4 million. At Rhodes casino turnover was down by 1.7 percent at 18 million and bets by 8 percent at 91.5 million. The casino on Syros saw turnover fall 38.6 percent (1 million) and bets by 30.7 percent (4.7 million), while Corfu casino shed 4.7 percent in turnover to 3.9 million but saw its bets rise by 7.4 percent to 19.8 million.

Two casinos fared better than the others, however. The casino in Thrace saw turnover rise by 53.3 percent to 5.5 million euros, as well as its bets by 34.8 percent to 23.3 million euros, while Halkidiki’s casino posted a 49.3 percent rise in turnover to 5.5 million euros while the amount placed in bets grew 34.8 percent to 23.3 million.