Online Casinos Greece | Casino Reviews 2024

Take a look at the best online casinos in Greece and the actual situation of its gambling laws {The Greek government was against gambling before the turn of the new millennium. In 2002, the government passed a law banning all forms of electronic gaming. However, Law 3037/2002 failed to make a distinction between online gambling, land-based gambling machines, and online video games. The laws were later relaxed by the government, with the 2011 Gambling Act making land-based slot machines and online gambling legal in an attempt to raise money through betting licenses and taxes. This Act saw the government grant 24 interim licenses to gambling operators, including William Hill and Betfair and made provisions for a permanent licensing system to be set up. In 2012 the Greek Ministry of Finance started drawing up proposals that would essentially monopolize the country’s online gambling market in favor of the state-run operator OPAP, which already held a land-based monopoly of the country’s sports betting and lottery industries. In November 2012, the government warned the holders of previously granted interim licenses to wind down their services. Many of these companies, dismayed by the lack of EU-compliant regulation in the country, left the Greek market, while others held out hope for a better resolution that never materialized.

CJEU's rulings

Following widespread concerns over the legality of the Greek gambling industry, the CJEU ruled in January 2013 that OPAP’s monopoly was indeed unlawful. In March, the Greek government submitted proposed revisions to its gambling laws to the European Commission, prompting a three-month ‘standstill’ while the EU considered the proposals. Clive Hawkswood, chief executive of the Remote Gambling Association, said of the situation in Greece: “When the Greek government said it was going to license and regulate the domestic online gambling market we welcomed this as a positive step. However, instead of encouraging the development of a competitive and well-regulated market, the Greek government and Gaming Commission are blocking major European private operators from it.” The Greek government retaliated by labeling online Random Number Games as “highly addictive”, arguing that they should not be readily available. However, given the fact that it also granted OPAP a license to operate an additional 35,000 physical video lottery terminals, this reasoning seems somewhat hypocritical. Online poker, however, is still very popular amongst Greek citizens. Many have continued to play through the transitional legal period involving interim licenses, with sites such as Party Poker offering games in both English and Greek. However, it’s not just online that Greeks can play poker, with anyone concerned about the legality of online gaming able to play at one of the many land casinos located on the mainland and islands. Indeed, Poker Stars even runs the Greek Poker Cup, the first-ever live poker tournament to take place on Greek soil.

Current online monopoly

Currently, online gambling services in the country can be provided by licensed legal entities. Companies that are registered in Greece and have regularly paid taxes on their profits are allowed to operate such activities. Games of chance can be provided by a certain company only in the event it has been granted a special license for such activities. Under the Gambling Act of 2011, the Greek Government issued two dozen interim licenses to several gambling operators, including some of the largest and most popular ones in the world such as Betfair and William Hill. The Greek government has now effectively granted OPAP a monopoly up until 2030. Greece’s gamble on OPAP’s monopoly of the national gambling industry may not have had the desired effect, with the company reporting a 71% drop in profits in the first quarter of 2013. This was attributed to the new 30% tax on gross gaming revenue recently levied by the Greek government, although sales, before the tax was introduced, had also decreased by almost 20%. Revenue from fixed-odds sports betting was down by over 25%. Given these bleak figures and the mounting pressure from Europe, the Greek government may be forced to consider alternatives to its state-driven OPAP monopoly. The decision was based on the hope that OPAP’s stock would eventually rise, allowing the government to make a profit on the 34% stake that it owns in the company. Even if it were to reopen the online gambling market to foreign firms, many may choose not to return, having been stung by the large back taxes recently levied. Until then, Greek gamblers are still able to play online poker or dabble in sports betting in their native language via a number of sites located outside their country that continue to accept Greek customers, such as 888casino.

The Hellenic Gaming Commission as the competent authority

By mid-October 2020, Greek gaming regulator Hellenic Gaming Commission has opened the application process for new online gaming licenses. Orders can now be placed by legal entities, including shareholders, executives, technology suppliers, and certification bodies. The HGC is the competent authority to grant access to what the law calls “Relevant Products” (gaming, betting, lotteries, and social/skill arrangements) and to review all applications. For the procedure regarding the acquisition of a license to land-based gaming, the application should be submitted containing information relevant as to be successfully certified for games of luck, said information must contain the brand name of the games in question, the required fees and a Certificate of Conformity to the Regulation The Greek Ministry of Economy presented its draft regulation on gambling to the European Commission in January 2020, after being approved by parliament in October last year. The entity confirms that separate licenses will be made available for sports betting and other online games, priced at €3 million and €2 million, respectively. Each will be valid for seven years. Also, companies that had their license expire by March 2020 need to sign up again to continue in the Greek market. License holders are required to pay a 35% gross gaming revenue tax rate. The new legal framework regarding online gaming maintains the successful changes applied to the law in 2011, both an electronic “Player’s Card” and the HGC’s “black list” of companies operating without licensing. New terms, however, were introduced such as provisions about affiliates. You have to be at least 23 years old in order to gamble legally in the country. Greek law imposes strict conditions for online casinos, including a maximum €2 bets on slots, with prizes up to €5,000 and a €50,000 jackpot limit. In addition, the International Betting Integrity Association (IBIA) criticized the Greek government’s plans at the time. The entity’s statement said: “Although the IBIA welcomes aspects of the regulation, most notably the general market opening and the ability of all betting operators to apply for a license and operate in Greece, the association says there is evidence from other jurisdictions that the proposed approach will, in fact, prevent many betting operators from being licensed in the market.” The reforms of online games were part of a broader package, called Invest in Greece, which included measures to simplify environmental and planning regulations.
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