ECONOMY

Luck turns on recession-hit casinos

The economic crisis is weighing on casino profits, which in the first half of this year have shown the largest drop since 1995, when the sector in Greece was first opened up to private investors. According to sources, the turnover of Greece’s nine casinos reached 265 million euros in the January-June period, declining 16.7 percent from the same period a year earlier. If the downturn keeps up at the same pace until the end of the year, then this will have a negative impact on revenues for the state, which claims a significant chunk of casino turnover in taxes. Apart from the recession hurting the sector, casino managers believe that illegal forms of Internet gambling are also adding to their difficulties. The largest drop was booked at the Casino Porto Carras in Halkidiki, northern Greece, the first gambling house in the country to operate under a private investor in 2005. Revenues fell 62 percent for the first six months of the year to 2.4 million euros. Next on the list is the casino at Rio, near Patra. Its revenues reached 11.7 million euros, down 29 percent from last year. The third-largest drop was recorded at the Xanthi casino, in northern Greece, where turnover fell by 26 percent to 4.2 million euros. The loss of revenues for the state depends on the government’s direct stake in the casino and the taxes imposed on their operators. The Loutraki casino pumps 33 percent of its revenues into state coffers, while the gambling houses of Thessaloniki, Mont Parnes, Rio and Rhodes hand over 30 percent of revenues to the state.