Greece lawmakers are preparing to vote on a bill to expand the gaming sector, by allowing the establishment of casinos in well-known tourist destinations in the country, such as the islands of Crete, Santorini and Mykonos. The bill being pushed by the Greek Ministry of Finance, also contemplates the relocation of existing gaming venues.
Three new gaming licenses for the specific islands are included in a draft bill tabled in Parliament, while another six casinos already in operation will be allowed to relocate. The latter is particularly important for the greater Athens area’s sole casino, a Hyatt Regency-run casino (Mont Parnes) atop Mt. Parnitha. If approved, the bill would also allow the relocation of casinos in Thessaloniki, Loutraki, Rio, Alexandroupolis, in the extreme northeast, and Florina, close to the border with Albania and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.
A report accompanying the draft legislation states that the goal is to improve connection of the gaming sector with tourism and to decrease the state’s share in licensed casinos’ gross profits. The bill also seeks to impose a unified coefficient for the state’s stake in casino concessions and to promote the “casino resort” model, one linked to shopping and hotels.
The draft bill, expected to be voted on in Greek Parliament before Christmas, could come into force on January 1, 2020. The bill foresees the semi-autonomous Hellenic Gaming Commission is given greater jurisdiction and acquires a decisive role in licensing and regulating casinos in the country. It also imposes a flat tax rate to casinos with gaming tax liability currently ranging from 22 to 35pc and will be up for public consultation until December 11.