ECONOMY

Greeks rank among the world’s biggest gamblers, to OPAP’s benefit

Greece has proven to be a gambling paradise, with state gaming company OPAP leading all its global peers in several categories, according to an international survey. The Lottery Benchmarking Analysis 2006 by the Media & Entertainment Consulting Network (MECN) on lotteries and games of chance puts Greece in third spot in the world on per capita spending on legal games of chance (through OPAP) and in the second spot on spending on games of chance as a share of annual per capita income. Market experts suggest that in fact Greece is one place higher than that, as the top spot is taken by Hong Kong whose lottery is chosen by mainland Chinese punters. Crucially, the survey includes only official lotteries and not gambling at casinos or on the Internet. The global survey shows that last year Greeks spent 2.05 percent of their annual incomes on games of fortune, with the international average standing at just 0.5 percent. Hong Kong citizens are by far the biggest gamblers, spending 5.91 percent of their annual incomes. They opt for horse racing organized by the Hong Kong Jockey Club, while illegal gambling is also very popular, as many Chinese will reportedly bet on anything. In absolute figures, Greece ranks third with annual spending of $590 per capita, behind Hong Kong ($1,791) and the Massachusetts state lottery ($706). The global average rate came to $190 last year. In annual betting, OPAP ranks second in the world with $299, behind the Hong Kong Jockey Club with $1,684. The average annual expenditure on gambling is $26. The MECN data show that compared to 2005, the per capita spending on OPAP games rose by an impressive 25 percent in 2006. The two games to gather the bulk of punters are Pame Stoichima and Kino. OPAP is a global leader in Kino, sporting the highest per capita spending at $235 per year against an average of $29. Each OPAP betting shop enjoys revenues of more than $1 million annually, the data show, while the OPAP shop chain has a relatively small network.