Greek tradition requires that this evening Greeks have to try their luck by playing poker or Black Jack, so that the New Year will have a good start. For this particular tradition, the rules of the game and the dangers of addiction talks about Mr. Yannis Vlahatis. According to the assessment of Mr Vlahatis the first day of New Year is expected to bring are over 9 000 casino visitors. Mr. Yannis Vlahatis works at the casino in Loutraki since 2005 and is responsible for the PR and program management for corporate social responsibility.
Tell me where is the origin of this Greek habit to play poker and to gamble during the New Year's Eve and the days around New Year?
This is not a habit but a tradition. From archaeological excavations, which were made in Greece and abroad, but especially in Greece, we find that the Greeks dealt with fate and fortune since at least 6 000 BC. It is not an accident that in ancient times there was a goddess Tihe (of chance and fate)—in other words they have dedicated one of their goddess to chance and many people believed in fate. So you can say that for centuries there is a specific connection between fate and Greeks. During the holidays there is a tradition that connects greeting the New Year and gambling and visits to the casinos. So it is especially popular among the people to be entertained by gambling. And usually when going to play Greeks say “let next year start good with this”.
Are there other days during the year when the casino visitors increase more than usual?
During the Christmas holidays and around Epiphany we have many visitors. But in general I can tell you that many Greeks now routinely entertain themselves by going to the casino and gambling. The Loutraki casino is a luxurious resort for entertainment and fun time - located in an area of 5000 square meters, it has a five-star hotel with 260 rooms and 25 suits, five luxury restaurants, a modern health spa center, indoor and outdoor pools. Loutraki is a modern casino resort located on the best beach - the beach of Loutraki and therefore attracts customers throughout the year from Greece and abroad.
Which are the most preferred games in the casino?
The most preferred games are the roulettes and the slot machines.
Is there a specific strategy a player must follow in order to win or at least not to lose?
Of course, this is the strategy to be insured—in other words, we have gone to the casino to have fun and beforehand we have decided what amount we will play with. And we should never forget that we are playing with the money we have in abundance, but not with the ones we need. This is the key to be able to leave the casino and to have had a good play while fun. This applies to all visitors and is a general rule. To those who leave with a profit we wish to utilize the well-earned and to the ones who have had bad luck in the game we wish them good luck next time.
Are there games that are preferred by women and others by men?
Based on research women like mostly the slot machines and men like playing cards and roulettes.
How often do you clients play and how much money do they usually spend?
Based on our research in Loutraki a customer comes between three and four times per year. And the amount played is between €800 and €1000.
In gambling what is the ratio between luck and strategy?
It depends on the nature of each player. Not all casino visitors are players - some come to have fun, others come to spend their free time in a different environment, others to enjoy the atmosphere of a luxurious entertainment and the fourth are the real players.
Each visitor has a strategy so that we cannot generalize. But what we want is for all our guests to enjoy the game, have fun and finally when they leave to have the feeling that they have a nice time.
Do you gamble?
According to official Loutraki casino laws all staff members are forbidden to play. But I quite often visit other casinos in Greece and abroad. Personally, I like Roulette and Black Jack the most.
How would you advise your children if they tell you that they are going to spend the night in a casino?
First, in Greece, children must be over 23 years old in order to be allowed in a casino. The legislature has pointed out a very good mature age. What I will advise them is to enjoy spending a pre-decided amount and not spend more than they can afford. Finally, they should always remember that gambling is played for fun and it is nothing more than just a game.
Did the economic crisis affect the players or the casino?
The crisis we are facing is global, but in Greece we also have fiscal crisis, which has a much wider effect on us than the global one. We are in the heart of the crisis. The situation is difficult. Overall, the gambling sector in Greece is affected and hence the casinos. The Loutraki casino is very big - in 2008 we had 1 250 000 visitors, so you can imagine that they are from all social strata and categories. Obviously if the crisis has affected the entire economy, it has affected all people as well. What we noticed is that people choose to come to the casino, but they spend less than last year.
What can Greek casinos envy from the Las Vegas ones?