Greek Government Approves Highly Contested Casino Expansion Plan

Posted by Costin Dinescu on 3:57 AM

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Greek Government Approves Highly Contested Casino Expansion Plan

The Greek government approved late on Monday an omnibus bill that included a swathe of fiscal, energy, and labor reforms, despite heated rallies outside the Parliament building. The 1,500-page legislative piece also included already highly contested changes in Greece’s casino industry and the way land-based casino owners are taxed.

The new taxation system will require from the country’s brick-and-mortar casinos to share a certain portion of their annual revenue, depending on how much they have generated throughout the year. They will have to contribute a 20% portion, if they generate revenue of up to €101 million, a 15% portion for revenue of between €101 million and €201 million, a 12% portion for revenue of between €201 million and €500 million, and an 8% portion for full-year revenue of over €500 million.

The massive bill also included provisions for the authorization of three new casinos on the Greek islands of Crete, Mykonos, and Santorini. The Hellenic Gaming Commission will be tasked with issuing the three new casino licenses. Under the omnibus bill, interested developers will, to an extent, be free to select a preferred location for building the new casinos across any of the three above-mentioned three islands.

There were a number of other gambling-related provisions in the 1,500-page document Greek MPs voted last night, details of which are yet to be released. However, it is important to note that the casino expansion proposal has already become the object of controversy between officials from the three islands and the Greek government.

Casino Expansion Plan Draws Massive Opposition

Mykonos officials first voiced their opposition to the plan last fall. It became known earlier this month that the island’s Mayor, Konstantinos Koukas, has reached out to Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras asking for the plan to be scrapped. According to Mayor Koukas and Mykonos’ city council, the island had more important issues to take care of before discussing the opportunity to build a casino. It was reported late in 2017 that the island would seek to hold a referendum on the casino issue.

The other two islands included in the casino expansion plan, too, expressed opposition to the proposed and now approved expansion of Greece’s casino industry. According to recent media reports, officials from both Santorini and Crete are gearing up to launch their own counteractions to hopefully prevent the construction of casinos on their territories from happening.

Generally speaking, all three islands are concerned about the issues that may arise from such a move and how these issues may affect each island’s overall landscape. Local officials have also consider it concerning that a different group of visitors will join the mix of tourists annually visiting the islands, with those new visitors being predominantly focused on gambling.

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