Planned reform revives foreign groups’ interest in Greek casinos


Many are wondering how it’s possible that investors are interested in Greek casinos: Battered and bruised by the economic crisis, with many burdened by huge debts – to say nothing of those caught up in litigation – local establishments appear to be deeply problematic. However, if one takes a closer look at developments, there are some signs that the picture could improve.

Increasing the number of punters is key, and to do this international markets will have to be tapped. Further increasing tourist numbers would be a step in the right direction, as would the opening of a high-quality casino – as foreseen in the development plans for the old airport plot at Elliniko, southern Athens – and the Parnitha casino moving to a more accessible location.

However, for this market to flourish and the state to collect money both from the licensing and operation of casinos, a more business-friendly tax framework would be necessary. This is made clear in a Grant Thornton survey for the Finance Ministry, whose results will be used to reform the institutional framework of casinos.

Greece has agreed to reform its casino legislation as a part of its bailout program, and this is interlinked with the licensing of the casino at Elliniko. It is this reform prospect that has brought a series of foreign groups from the international entertainment industry to government offices (and to the consortium that is trying to develop the Elliniko plot), an Economy Ministry official tells Kathimerini.

The bill to be tabled in the next few weeks will, according to sources, contain a new tax status for gaming tables and slot machines. The government has received proposals from institutions that foresee a mixed system that would bring down the tax rate on gross turnover from 30-37 percent (depending on the case) to 25 percent or even lower.

Despite the original impression that state revenues would decrease, experts have explained that turnover, permits issued and investments will grow as the new regulations will further strengthen activity in the sector.

People familiar with the planned move of the Parnitha casino closer to Athens (but still outside the city), speak of a development in a new area and an investment worth 150 million euros. The Elliniko casino will generate even more, if it does finally go through.