New casi­nos for Crete, My­conos fol­low­ing Par­nitha’s re­lo­ca­tion

Kathimerini English - - Focus - BY VANGELIS MANDRAVELIS

The gov­ern­ment’s plan to re­solve all out­stand­ing is­sues in the gam­ing mar­ket is in full swing.

To­day or to­mor­row, Par­lia­ment will pass amend­ments con­cern­ing the con­tract be­tween the state and OPAP as re­gards video lot­tery ter­mi­nals (VLTs) and the re­lo­ca­tion of the Par­nitha casino closer to Athens. Fi­nance Min­is­ter Eu­clid Tsakalo­tos is also ex­pected to an­nounce changes to the tax sta­tus of casi­nos, plans for new casi­nos on Crete and My­conos and the li­cens­ing process for on­line gam­ing ser­vices.

Sources say that changes to casi­nos’ tax sta­tus are top pri­or­ity: The main aim is to re­duce the tax rates so that a casino per­mit at Elliniko – which is nec­es­sary for the de­vel­op­ment of the plot of the old Athens air­port – be­comes more at­trac­tive to in­vestors. The gov­ern­ment has re­al­ized that tax rates over 22 per­cent serve as a de­ter­rent to ma­jor in­vestors, while also threat­en­ing the sus­tain­abil­ity of ex­ist­ing casi­nos.

Greek casi­nos’ gam­ing tax li­a­bil­ity ranges from 22 to 35 per­cent, but the new sys­tem will likely have a flat rate for games across all of the coun­try’s casi­nos. Fur­ther­more there is no doubt the en­trance ticket will be abol­ished.

At a later date, the min­istry will is­sue new li­censes aim­ing at new casi­nos on Crete and My­conos that will up­grade these tourism des­ti­na­tions and cover a ma­jor mar­ket of visi­tors, mainly from abroad – a rev­enue source that has so far re­mained un­tapped. There are also plans for the with­drawal of per­mits from casi­nos that are loss-mak­ing or do not at­tract any in­vestor in­ter­est. Re­li­able sources say this plan may well be put into prac­tice by the end of the year.

The third in­ter­ven­tion in the mar­ket will con­cern on­line gam­ing. The main idea is to force ser­vice providers to ob­tain an in­ter­net ad­dress within Greece, so that Greek pun­ters who try to log on to their web­sites will be redi­rected to their Greek page (.gr). This will put them all un­der the ju­ris­dic­tion of the Greek au­thor­i­ties and watch­dogs.

These are the plans of Deputy Econ­omy Min­is­ter Ster­gios Pit­sior­las and are ex­pected to be im­ple­mented in the same pe­riod of time.

The Par­nitha casino will not be such a trek for Athe­ni­ans any­more as Par­lia­ment is about to vote on mov­ing it closer to the cap­i­tal.

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