Crisis hits gamblers’ pockets

Greece’s nine casinos have reported a drop in revenues of between six to 35 percent for the first 11 months of the year, in comparison with last year’s figures. The casinos are hoping to make up for lost profits during the busy festive season. Industry sources have described 2009 as the worst year since casinos first opened in the country back in 1995. The same sources expect total turnover to fall by at least 15 percent (or some 100 million euros) for the year to 620 million euros. In the first 11 months of the year, the drop in turnover was an average 16 percent, to 570 million euros, from 2008 levels. A breakdown of the figures shows that the slide in revenues is not due to fewer visitors at the gambling houses but less spending by each customer. The downturn is attributed to the economic crisis, which has hurt casinos and, in turn, government revenues. As a result of the drop in turnover, the government is estimated to pocket 35 million euros less than last year from its stakes in casinos. Illegal betting clubs and online gambling are also taking business away from casinos, sources added. Gamblers trying their luck have a growing preference for slot machines rather than betting on games at the tables. Data indicate that 55 percent of the money spent is on slot machines with the remainder being wagered at the tables. However, when casinos were first introduced, only 20 percent was played at slot machines with the remaining amount of money going toward the tables.

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