Illegal gambling is on the increase in Greece, in a big way. Internet cafes and mini-casinos are at the centre of the controversy, playing host to those who wish to indulge in some unlicensed gambling.
To be fair, no country is immune to unlicensed or illegal gambling. However, the scale of the problem in Greece is truly staggering. In the last two weeks alone, Greek police have made 300 arrests during a series of 51 raids. Last year, Greek police raided 480 illegal betting operations, and if the last two weeks are anything to go by, 2017’s numbers are set to end up being even higher.
The game of choice for these illegal establishments appears to be Video Lottery Terminals (VLT’s). They are cheap to run and provide a similar experience that you’d expect to find in any major casino. So just how much money is in this illegal VLT gambling market? Well, a rather staggering €1bn to be exact. This has resulted in an estimated loss for the Greek government of €300m-€400m through lost taxation.
Authorities have said that restricting this activity is a difficult task as the fines for operating illegal gambling machines are extremely low compared with the potential profits. Earlier this week, the Greek independent authority, Commission for Supervision and Regulation of Gaming, introduced a gaming project to grant further licenses to operate authorised slot machines. So it would appear the Greek government is choosing not to try and beat them but to try and join them instead. However, the Greek casino market is less than pleased with the idea of government trying to accommodate potential competitors and has filed a motion to block the licensing process.
So you see, bookmakers in the UK may occasionally be a pain, but we are extremely lucky to have such a secure and well legislated betting industry.