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Greece Online Casinos

Greece Online CasinosOnline gambling in Greece has been banned, legalized, and banned again. The government and its laws have been subject to numerous claims by operators as well as sustained pressure from the EU to reform its monopoly on the gambling industry. Current legislation is in a state of flux while the new government draws up proposals to legalize online gaming and betting once again, but policy is being driven by the country’s dire need to raise money rather than anything to do with the gaming industry itself.

Greece was hit harder than most by the economic crisis and has already received two EU bailouts. The proposal to lift the ban on online gaming services is part of a wider strategy to raise funds to pay off the national debt. Against the backdrop of all of this, Greek players have continued to play at foreign-based casino sites from the comfort of their own homes, as well as the only licensed operator in Greece - state-run OPAP, which controls the monopoly on all land-based sports betting and lotteries.

It’s a complicated situation, but currently there is no law preventing players from gambling at overseas online casinos, and many of the large operators even offer their websites in Greek language. Here are our top picks of Greek online casinos:

Best Greek Casino Sites in 2017

  • Rank
  • Casino
  • Bonus
  • Play
1
100% UP TO €100
2
255% UP TO €555
3
100% UP TO €600
4
100% UP TO €500
5
100% UP TO €150

Best Greek Casino Sites in 2017

1
Novibet Casino
100% UP TO €100
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2
King Billy Casino
255% UP TO €555
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3
SportingBet Casino
100% UP TO €600
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4
mybet Casino
100% UP TO €500
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5
Bet Rebels Casino
100% UP TO €150
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Online Gaming off the Agenda

The Greek government was initially very much in opposition to internet gambling, and in 2002 passed a law which banned all forms of electronic gaming. The law was perhaps too far-reaching in that it failed to differentiate between gambling, video games, or land-based machines, to the point that it was illegal to play simple games like video chess in internet cafes.

In the meantime OPAP, of which the government owned 34%, continued to control a monopoly over all land-based sports betting and lotteries. A high-profile incident in 2008 saw the Greek authorities raid two shops that were being operated by UK-based sports betting firm Stanleybet. This was the same year that the EU formally demanded Greece remove its barriers to the free movement of gaming services in the country.

Gambling with the Greek Economy

In 2011 the Omnibus Bill was introduced, which legalized land-based gaming machines and online gambling in a bid to raise money through licences and taxes to boost the flagging Greek economy. 24 provisional licences were issued, with big names such as Paddy Power and Sportingbet among those to receive them. However, tax legislation meant that the government-backed OPAP was able to operate under much more favourable terms, and other European operators, such as Betfair and Bet365, lodged a complaint via the Remote Gaming Association with the EU over discrimination.

The Bill failed to last more than a year. By 2012 the licences had been revoked and Greek authorities awarded OPAP the monopoly on the country’s gambling market until 2030. Those operators that had received the provisional licences were told to wrap up their services in the country in November 2012. Once again complaints were brought before the EU, with many operators suggesting that the policy was intended to raise the price of the government’s shares in OPAP, which it intended to sell.

Sure enough the government sold its shares in OPAP to investment firm Emma Delta in May 2013 for €652m, although the European Court of Justice has since ruled that the law governing its monopoly is illegal.

A State of Flux

This has left Greece in a temporary state of flux, with ‘illegal’ laws in place, and under close scrutiny from the EU due to massive debt repayments that the country owes.

In a turn of events, the new Syriza party, which came to power in the elections of January 2015, has declared the intention to legalize online gaming once again, with the intention of raising €500m in extra taxation revenue for the cash-strapped state. Part of the proposal calls for the ‘immediate, official licencing of existing gaming providers’, with licence fees to be revised.

The Greek Gambling Commission released figures stating that total revenues from the country’s industry in 2014 were €5.9bn, with the government able to secure tax revenue of €525m. The Commission also estimated that up to €5bn was wagered on illegal sites by Greek nationals during the same year, and the aim of any legislation will be to earn tax revenue on that portion of the market.

A New Landscape

The Syriza party’s proposals are yet to be formalised or approved by the EU, and it will be a complicated process creating a legal framework to suit both the Greek government and EU-based operators. There are still plenty of questions to be answered about how taxation and licensing will be handled to ensure fair competition.

If the laws are changed and taxation is based on a level playing field, it will mean that offshore firms can finally gain licences to operate legally in the Greek market and expand their customer base. Millions of players have been playing at overseas Greek casino sites for years anyway, and with the country at the behest of the EU, a change could come sooner rather than later.

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