NEWS

Casinos do better, year after year

The roulette wheels have been polished, the card tables are tidy and the slot machines are gleaming. The casinos of Greece are dressed in their best, and it’s the least they can do, when they anticipate making fabulous profits during the holidays. «Every year is better,» Mont Parnes Casino Director Themis Pavlatos told Kathimerini. «In recent years, at casinos and especially Mont Parnes, business has picked up tremendously. There’s more gaming and higher profits.» Despite the cold weather, he expects large crowds this season. Gaming is a profitable business. Every year 1.7 billion euros are spent at casinos, which make gross profits of 352 to 586 million euros. In the latest twist, customers have been wagering more money per capita. At the Loutraki casino, for example, even though the average annual number of customers dropped from 903,231 in 2001 to 727,390 in the first nine months of 2002, turnover rose by 11.8 percent. One explanation for this is the changeover to the new currency. «The euro has confused casino visitors,» says Pavlatos. «They can’t calculate exactly how much they’re spending, so they spend more.» At Loutraki, the amount wagered per capita rose by 12.32 percent. This financial year, the turnover will exceed 149 million euros, with an average annual per capita bet of 838 euros. The Regency Casino in Thessaloniki has seen a steady rise in profits, regardless of the number of visitors. In 2000, the casino had 1,347,156 visitors, and a turnover of 127 million euros. A year later, turnover rose to 132 million euros with about 100,000 fewer customers. This year, visitors are expected to number 1,302,000 and to generate a turnover of 160 million euros. Casinos in outlying areas do tremendous business. The Ermoupolis Casino on Syros, for example, regularly grosses 5.9 million euros a year. «We’re a seasonal casino,» company President Dimitris Kyrkos told Kathimerini. «We don’t count on the locals but on lots of visitors, whom we expect again this Christmas holiday.» Seasonal gamblers don’t have the same habits as casino habitues, nor do they gamble the same amounts. This year, the slot machines are expected to be so popular that devotees will practically have to book seats.