Greece an EU leader in gambling

Greece is a European leader in gambling stakes, at least according to statistics for 2004 which show the country’s most popular betting game boasting higher revenues than the equivalent game in Britain and several other EU countries. Pame Stoichima, run by gaming company OPAP, had an estimated turnover of 1.6 billion euros in 2004, compared to 1.4 billion euros for the equivalent game in Britain – whose population is more than five times that of Greece – while the same game in Italy took in 1.2 billion euros and just 109 million euros in France. But OPAP is not resting on its laurels. Not satisfied with adding basketball, volleyball, racing, handball and a host of other sports to Pame Stoichima’s staple soccer bets, OPAP had organized bets on the recent Oscar awards ceremony and the Winter Olympics in Turin and is planning another one-off bet for the Eurovision song contest which Athens is hosting in May. However, 95 percent of Pame Stoichima bets are still on soccer games – just foreign ones at the moment, although the introduction of bets on domestic games is currently under discussion. By diversifying the scope for betting, OPAP hopes to broaden its clientele, which is currently more or less limited to men aged between 18 and 45, with those aged 25 to 35 representing the majority group. According to OPAP’s public relations representative Panos Pournaros, the practice of gambling attracts younger people because they are the most likely to carry out the extensive Internet research deemed to be the necessary «homework» for a serious bet.