Gambling in Greece
Greece in Greece is a mainland-island state in Southern Europe where almost all types of gambling are allowed. The very first gaming establishments appeared in the country in the beginning of the 20th century. But the rapid development of the gambling business started not that long ago — only in the 2000s. Due to the difficult economic situation, the Government decided to expand this industry in the country. This was supposed to contribute to the increase of tourists and guarantee that Greece would be visited all year round. Operations of all establishments that offer gambling entertainment are regulated by Supervisory And Gaming Control Committee (E.E.E.P.). The main gambling laws and conditions of providing the services in the gambling industry are regulated by the Law 4002/2011. 9 legal casinos are operating in the territories of Greece today. All of them are located in major hotels or in resort areas and mostly target foreign visitors. The largest casino is Regency Casino Mont Parnes, which is located in the city of Acharnes.
Casinos in Greece
The statistics claims that in 2015 Greek casinos were visited by almost 3 million players. A major lottery and bookmaking operator OPAP SA is also operating in Greece. Up until 2013 33% of its shares belonged to the state. After that they were handed over to EMMA DELTA HELLENIC HOLDINGS LTD. OPAP SA has a license to install and operate 35,000 gaming machines for gambling offline (through shops). The license will expire in 2030.
Online gambling in Greece has been allowed since 2011. But at the present moment this niche of the market is totally monopolised by bookmaker OPAP SA. And even though the European Court ruled that this monopoly was illegal, the company still keeps operating in the market. As of 2017, the entire gambling industry in Greece is undergoing radical changes. New gaming laws are expected to come into effect, which will create equal conditions for all operators in the country. In January 2016 the Government announced that the market will be opened for foreign operators and licenses will be issued to provide online gambling entertainment. Many foreign websites are already accepting players from Greece. No cases of persecution of players or blocking the websites have ever been reported.
Gambling Games in Greece
Slot machines have been widely popular among Greek players. No information on specific slots that the Greeks would prefer is available. The most experienced players are undoubtedly familiar with these legendary slots: Book of Ra Deluxe, Sizzling Hot, Zeus, Cleopatra and Pompeii. These slots were designed by the leading developers such as: Novomatic, Aristocrat, IGT and WMS.
The gambling industry in Greece is regulated by Law 4002/2011. Provisions of this law establish the basic rules and conditions, which must be strictly complied with when organising or conducting any gambling operations. These are the types of gambling that are allowed in Greece by the legislation: Poker, Online betting, Sports betting (Propo, PropoGoal and Pame Stoixima), Casino games (blackjack, French and American roulette, baccarat, punto banco and dice), Slot machines and other gaming machines, Gaming terminals, Bingo and Lotteries (scratch cards, National Lottery and Popular Lottery) OPAP SA holds the exclusive right on running and managing the games with numeric lotteries (Lotto, Proto, Joker, Extra 5, Super 3 and Keno) and sports betting.
According to the renewed legislation, gambling games can only be played in official gaming establishments. Players who place their bets outside of these facilities will face criminal prosecution. All residents of Greece who would like to take part in gambling entertainment must have a personal player's card. Those under 21 years of age are not allowed to visit gambling establishments. Pursuant to Law 4002/2011, gambling implies entertainment that meets the following criteria: chance is one of the factors that affects (fully or partially) the outcome of the game. All gambling games must be based on the law of probability. Randomising can be done by using a random number generator (RNG), by some other mechanical devices, or with a blueprint and vailability of bets to be placed. The bets are defined as the player's opportunity to invest any amount of personal funds in order to derive direct or indirect benefits. It also applies to free games All operators must hold appropriate licenses and certificates in order to provide their services in both land-based establishments and via the Internet.
Supervisory And Gaming Control Committee (E.E.E.P.) is an independent administrative body in charge of issuing licenses and certificated to gambling operators. The duties of Supervisory And Gaming Control Committee (E.E.E.P.) include supervision, monitoring and control of these types of games on the nation's territories. Greek Gaming Control Committee consists of 9 members appointed by the Ministry of Finance. The tenure of the members of the Committee is 4 years and can only be extended once. Once every two years half of the Supervisory And Gaming Control Committee (E.E.E.P.) is renewed, except for the President. This is necessary in order for the Committee to keep functioning.
Online gambling in Greece
Online gambling in Greece used to be banned for some time. The gambling was legalised again in 2011. The authorised body that regulates this area is Supervisory And Gaming Control Committee (E.E.E.P.). Operations of virtual gaming establishments is regulated by the Law 4002/2011. According to this Law, all Greek operators that provide their services online must have their own website. The name of the website must end with .gr.
As soon as online gambling was legalised in 2011, the state issued 24 temporary licenses to various operators. Only one year later the experiment was suspended and the development of a new licensing system got under way. And at the present time only a Greek company named ОРАР has the monopoly on providing the services in the area of online lotteries and online casinos, which will remain effective until 2030. Legislation of licensing of the gambling industry, including online gambling, is undergoing a radical change. Soon licenses will also be issued to foreign operators of virtual casinos. According to preliminary estimates, the approximate cost of a license for operators of online casinos will be around 3,000,000 EUR. The license will remain valid for 5 years. The minimum tax rate for these operators will be 1,000,000 EUR. So, new operators of online games are expected to enter the Greek market in the near future. Today many foreign websites of online casinos already have no problem accepting Greek citizens. Players can take an advantage of 141 online casinos that feature both Greek and English interfaces. Bets in these virtual establishments are accepted in either Euros or US Dollars.
All operators who would like to apply for a gambling license must submit an appropriate form to the Supervisory And Gaming Control Committee (E.E.E.P.). The application form must include the information about the applicant and the number of certified slot machines that operate in compliance with the resolution of the Hellenic Gaming Commission No.130/2 dated 18.11.14 on monitoring technical characteristics of gaming machines. According to the legislation, gambling operators may be companies that are taxed by applying the common regulations stated in the Law 2238/1944 (page 151). Non-profit organisations cannot have their electronic technical-entertainment games licensed. Prerequisites for obtaining the license for people are that an individual must have no criminal record, which includes serious criminal offenses (theft, embezzlement, fraud, forgery, etc.) and that an individual must have no criminal record or any previous felony charges related to gambling. Once the license has been issued to the applicant, the applicant must immediately provide the following information to the Gambling Commission:
- On certified slot machines that there are available
- On qualified games used in these machines
- Confirmation of the operator's legitimacy of obtaining the rights to run gaming machines and games. Legal ways include: leasing, purchase, transfer of rights to use, etc
- On moving slot machines between shops or places where they are stored and/or repaired
All of this information must be submitted in electronic form through the System of Monitoring and Control of Operational System of Certification of Video Lottery Terminal (VLT)-type Gaming Machines. To obtain or extend the license, an annual fee must be paid for running the electronic gaming machines that are listed in the license. The operator must pay the license fee on an annual basis. If the operator cannot afford to pay the fee, the license will not be issued or extended.
Certification of slot machines
All slot machines installed in specially provided premises must be certified by Supervisory And Gaming Control Committee (E.E.E.P.) Each slot machine must be certified individually. Certification is provided for manufacturers, importers in some cases, and rightful owners of the machine in accordance with the provisions indicated in the decision ruled by Supervisory And Gaming Control Committee (E.E.E.P.) No. 130/2 dated 18.11.2014 (B 3225). Computers are viewed and considered as gaming machines if they have appropriate software applications or certified games installed and used in professional activities of the gambling industry. To qualify for a certificate, a slot machine must have the CE marking (or an equivalent marking). To get a certificate, a proper application must be submitted to Supervisory And Gaming Control Committee (E.E.E.P.). At the same time the state fee must be paid for processing the application (50 EUR for each slot machine). A one-time fee must also be paid for issuing the certificate (20 EUR for each slot machine). Each certified slot machine that is ready for operation must be exclusively equipped with certified games. Any change in the certified slot machine that has been installed must be reported to the Supervisory And Gaming Control Committee (E.E.E.P.). Certified slot machines are allowed to run legitimate operations as long as they have:
- The authentication code issued by Supervisory And Gaming Control Committee (E.E.E.P.)
- A unique serial number
- The name of the manufacturer
- The logo of Supervisory And Gaming Control Committee (E.E.E.P.)
- The website where the certified games are registered, which have been installed in this slot machine, along with the authentication codes for these games, and age limitations
Prior to withdrawing a certified slot machine from the market, the Hellenic Gaming Commission must be notified. The Commission, in turn, will remove this slot machine from the corresponding register.
Certification of premises for slot machines
To install slot machines in certain premises, certification must be obtained from Supervisory And Gaming Control Committee (E.E.E.P.), which is issued upon the operator's request in compliance with Decision No. 130/2 dated 18.11.2014 (B 3225). The size of the premises for slot machines must comply with the legislative requirements. In exceptional cases slot machines can be placed in premises where no commercial gaming operations are conducted. Premises for placing slot machines are subdivided into the following categories: Type A (Alpha) - premises provided exclusively for gaming machines and commercial gaming operations, Type G (Gamma, Γ) - premises of mixed type. Besides gaming operations, other types of commercial operations can be carried out on these premises and Type D (Delta, Δ) - premises on sea-going vessels sailing domestic or international routes. Each vessel is considered as a separate mixed area provided that it has a special room for placing the slot machines that is in compliance with the legislative requirements.
Each room that was certified is assigned a head manager. Along with the operator, the manager makes sure that the facility complies with legislation and the rules. To get a certificate for gaming premises, the state fee must be paid for processing the application in the amount of 50 EUR for each room. Annual fee must also be paid in the amount of 80 EUR per room. The fee must be paid no later than one year after the first payment was made. Delayed payment implies revocation of the certificate.
Development of Gambling Market in Greece
Gambling industry in Greece is currently going through not the best of times. Today the nation's Government is actively engaged in the development of this industry, since it is counting on increasing the cashflow into the state budget through these channels. The Government has been working on new gaming legislation and a renewed licensing system for gambling operators. State-run monopoly ОРАР will soon share its gambling market with other players, including foreign ones.
It will be mandatory for new operators to obtain a special license. At the same time each slot machine and each game installed, as well as the premises where the machines are placed, will have to undergo the appropriate certification procedure by the Supervisory And Gaming Control Committee (E.E.E.P.). The Government has also developed and endorsed a new system of taxation aimed at increasing the profits from the gambling industry. Since January 2017 all online operators working in Greece must pay a fixed tax in the amount of 35% of the total profit into the state budget.
Greek developers of gaming software products
Greece can brag about its achievements in the area of developing gaming software. Greek company named Intralot was recognised as one of the world's leading integrated gaming systems, transaction processing systems, the latest game content and other services associated with them. Today Intralot is the second largest lottery operator in the world. The company has its subsidiaries in 75 countries worldwide and conducts lottery projects in 40 different countries. Intralot has been supplying to Russia all necessary equipment, along with software products and technologies, to run the National Lottery.
Since January 2017 all Greek operators of online casinos must pay a fixed tax of 35% of the profit into the state budget. The bill was endorsed by the Government in compliance with the requirements by the European Union. Twenty-four international online operators that hold a Greek license must stick to the renewed system of taxation.