ECONOMY

Hopes of revenue boost from games of chance

The state is expecting revenues of 1.3 billion euros in taxes from games of chance, the creation of new betting licenses and the expansion of existing ones, according to the law passed by Parliament that implements the provisions of the international aid package. The government’s plan for the two-year period 2010-11 envisages revenues of 725 million euros from new licenses and the extension of current ones, while another 600 million euros is projected to come in the form of «rights.» Although this term is not defined in the law, all indications are that the taxation of the new games will be calculated on the basis of revenue rather than players’ winnings, as is the case today. Therefore revenues will be called rights as opposed to taxes. It is likely that there will be an immediate extension of OPAP’s license for its games, possibly within next month, while the process of licensing suppliers of scratchcards and video lotto will also begin. The government expects these moves to generate some 500 million euros and procedures must be completed by the end of September. Consequently, by year’s end we will likely see the first slot machines from OPAP and possibly the return of the scratchcards. There is also a possibility of the government selling the horse race betting license to OPAP, whose reserves amount to some 700 million euros. This is why the state hopes to collect half a billion euros by September. The government’s determination to take a significant amount of funds from the corporation is most people’s explanation for the decline in OPAP’s stock that has reached as much as 25 percent.