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Gambling machines in every cafe by the end of the year?

01 June 2010 / 08:06:12  GRReporter
2415 reads

Victoria Mindova


The public companies and professionals were thrown in shock by the idea of the socialist PASOK government to issue a decision for the placement of 50 000 electronic gambling machines free in pubs, petrol stations and lottery in the country. By government estimations this move will generate more than 50 billion euros revenues from fees, taxes and permits only by the end of 2010. Only in 2009 the state has received five millions lottery revenue, 2.83 millions of revenue from the nine Greek casinos and 679 millions from the state lottery. All this was presented by Antonis Steriotis, manager of hotel-casino Lutraki from the symposium of the Greek-American Chamber of Commerce concerning the organization of the lotteries market in Greece.

Antonis Steriotis explained that according to data presented by the government the amount of turnover of illegal gambling in the country at about 3.1 billion euros annually. This includes uncertified online casinos, betting black gambling, unregistered machines and others. He stressed that the black gambling deprives the state from arrears debts from the income of the activity and violates laws on consumer protection. "The government wants to expand a problem rather than solve it first," said the casino manager of Lutraki in relation to the distribution of 50 thousand gambling machines in the country. He made severe criticism of the government stating that the "right hand does not know what the left hand is doing", referring to the lack of coordination of actions and total lack of communication between the different bodies. Antonis Steriotis stressed the important role of casinos, explaining that they give 60 percent of their profits to the state in the form of taxes. At the same time they provide direct and indirect jobs in the region where they operate and thus become a key factor for economic development and tourism in the area.

The market for lottery and gambling was defined as anarchic by Stefanos Teodoridis, president of Regency Entertainment, company owner and management of casinos in the country. He spoke about the inability of the government to protect the interests of the large investors in Greece, who have particular difficulties in the north part of the country. The problem that Teodoridis presented was the flow of Greek tourists to its northern neighbor, Bulgaria, who advertises and attract Greek customers and thus bled out the local market. He said that for an average 110 million annual revenues coming into the treasury from the operations of the casinos in Greece, the Government and the relevant supervisory authorities must take protective measures. According to the calculations of the office of Regency Entertainment the Bulgarian casinos draw 30% of clients of their Greek counterpart.

An important topic that troubles the Greek society today is the issue of privatization. One of the public companies included in the privatization plan is the Greek state lottery and lottery games (OPAP). The president Ioannis Spanudakis of the company spoke about the importance of the symposium from the controlled opening of the betting and gaming monopoly which up to now is held by the state. Before proceeding to even partial privatization of the business of betting and lotteries, Spanudakis said that first is needed to revise the regulatory framework and rules governing the activity. He stressed out that the new technologies applied in the field require a new type of control which complies with the modern needs of the sector.

Tags: Economy Markets Companies
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