Roadmap for problematic casinos

The internet has also brought a new landscape to gambling, shaping new balances in the market. By March 2023, three new online gaming licenses are expected, as announced by the chairman of the Hellenic Gaming Commission, Mr. Dimitrios Tzanatos, during yesterday’s presentation of the Commission’s new corporate identity.

Moreover, the recovery of the gambling market, which this year is expected to reach or even exceed the levels of 2019, is largely due to online games, which players have become familiar with during the pandemic. It is noted that the contribution of the gambling market to the state budget amounts to 1 billion euros.

The three new players in the Greek online market are Brobet, Elladix and Triton, all three of which have applied for the acquisition of both types of licenses provided for by the institutional framework, i.e. Type A which concerns online betting and Type B which concerns other games of chance. The first two will be licensed by the end of the year, while the third in the first quarter of the new year. Thus, the number of licensed players in Greece will reach 18.

The president of the Gaming Commission did not rule out the possibility of interest in additional licenses, due to high demand. Given this large increase, one of the bets is to attract the transfer of the headquarters of online gaming companies from Malta and Gibraltar to Greece. To achieve this, discussion and cooperation with providers is needed.

Expressing his concern about the phenomena of addiction to online gambling, Mr. Dzanatos emphasized that “our goal is to protect society from the bad consequences of gambling”. In this direction, he announced an Observatory on the behavior of players on the Internet.

Physical casinos are problematic

Both the consequences of the pandemic and the prevalence of online gambling have been added to the already problematic physical casinos. As Mr. Tzanatos mentioned, measures are being considered to consolidate and ensure the viability of the casinos. As part of the Commission’s consultation with the providers of the operating casinos, who submitted around 115 proposals, a package of measures and interventions is being prepared to support land-based casinos, which is expected to be completed by the end of March.

“As a whole, the casino market is problematic and their prospects are not the best”, pointed out Mr. Tzanatos, giving particular weight to the cases of the casinos of Corfu, Rio and Alexandroupolis. The first step for their inclusion in the consolidation process was made with the agreement between the fund Glafka Capital and the red loan management company Intrum for the acquisition of the loans with a nominal value of 130 million euros held by the management companies of the three casinos.

As the head of the Commision noted, regarding the casinos managed by Mr. Kostas Piladakis, “this is the first step down a long road”. In the next phase, negotiations will begin with creditors, employees, etc.

As far as Loutraki is concerned, according to Mr. Tzanatos, the submission of the consolidation plan is in the final stretch, the casino of Syros is not sustainable, while the casinos of Thessaloniki and Florina are under great pressure from the competition of neighboring cities in other countries, such as Skopje.

The new casinos in Ellinikon and Gournes

Referring to the developments regarding the new Integrated Resort Casino in Elliniko, he explained that after the completion of the change in the shareholder composition of the consortium that has taken over the license with the replacement of Mohegan by Hard Rock, the Gaming Commission approved and recommended that Hard Rock also contributes technical experience to the project. In short, she will be the one who will operate the casino.

As he noted, the Commission will be present throughout the construction of the project, in order to exercise the necessary control and supervision. A special technical group is established for this purpose. Also, the consortium is going to immediately select the independent engineer of the project through a tender.

As for the casino that will be developed in Gournes of Heraklion, he clarified that if the sale is not officially approved by the Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund-HRADF to the investor, it is not possible to start the licensing process for the casino. He also appeared cautious about the discussion on the creation of a complex with casinos in Mykonos and Santorini, given that the infrastructures of the two islands are already heavily burdened and will not be able to serve the requirements of such a facility.

Problems for franchisees

There is also concern about the viability of OPAP agencies, whose revenues collapsed amid the pandemic. The Gaming Commission has already proceeded to funding a study, which will record the state of the agencies, but also of the market. In this context, it will initiate a dialogue with the agents/franchise holders in order to explore solutions to their problems, but also to jointly define the agencies of the future.

According to the president of the Commission, the addition of Greece to the pan-European Eurojackpot lottery from 2023 is going to give “breathing” to the agencies. What is expected is the operating regulation.

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