The State of Online Gambling in Greece

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The State of Online Gambling in Greece

Greece is a member country of the EU, widely known as the home of the Ancient Olympic Games. It takes pride in its rich cultural heritage. When it comes to gambling, it also has a long history that can be traced back to ancient times.  

Interestingly, gambling made it to Greek mythology. According to a legend, Zeus, Poseidon, and Hades threw the dice to decide which part of the world belongs to whom. There is also a legend behind the origin of gambling.

Gambling Laws in Greece 

Gambling in Greece has always been a popular pastime among all social classes. According to the casino legislation and laws in Greece, brick-and-mortar casino gambling is legal. The country is home to eight land-based casinos that offer different table games as well as slot and video poker machines. When it comes to online gambling, the situation is more complex.

Online gambling has started to gain steam back in the 2000s. Some countries decided to regulate the online gambling industry to boost their economy. Others took a strict approach in an attempt to protect people from gambling-related harms.  

Greece was one of the countries that were against the legalization of Internet gambling. In 2002, Greek legislators enacted Law 3037/2002, prohibiting all forms of electronic gaming. The only problem with the law was that it could not make a difference between Internet gambling, gambling machines in land-based casinos, and online video games.

Greece Shifts Toward Liberal Gambling Regulatory Framework

In 2008, the world was shaken by one of the worst financial crises, leaving many countries struggling with economic difficulties. Looking for ways to mitigate the effects of the financial crisis, Greece decided to shift toward a more relaxed gambling regulatory framework.

In 2011, the law was amended to allow slot machines in land-based casinos and online gambling. As a result, the government granted licenses to 24 gambling operators and proposed to implement a permanent licensing system. Some of the first operators to enter the Greek market were William Hill and Betfair.

OPAP’s Betting and Gambling Monopoly 

In 2012, the government abandoned this idea after the Greek Ministry of Finance came up with the idea to grant a monopoly to the state-run operator OPAP over the online gambling market in Greece. At that time, OPAP already held a monopoly over the provision of land-based sports betting services and lotteries.

In November 2012, the government forced the licensed remote operators to comply with the new regulations and leave the Greek market. The country was scolded by the European Union for violating EU rules. In January 2013, the Court of Justice of the European Union ruled out that the monopolization of the Greek gambling market is against the law.

In 2013, OPAP was privatized and currently, it is privately owned and traded. However, it holds a monopoly on casino gambling until 2030. The EU stated that it is not illegal for remote gambling operators to welcome players from Greece as at the moment, it is not possible to receive a license because of the monopoly.

Recent Changes 

In January 2020, the Greek Ministry of Finance submitted a draft gambling regulatory framework to the European Commission. The Hellenic Gaming Commission announced the opening of the license application process.  

The fee for obtaining a license for online sports betting is €3 million, while the license fee for the provision of online casino gambling services is €2 million. The licenses are valid for seven years and licensed operators have to pay a 35% gross gaming revenue.

According to the new gambling regulations in Greece, players have to be at least 21 years old to participate in gambling and betting activities. Furthermore, a €2 betting limit on slots was approved. According to the regulations, the prizes should not exceed €5,000, and a €50,000 limit for jackpot games.