The Greek casino industry is facing a serious threat following new demands from the national government, it emerged last week.
The government has demanded overdue social security money from the land-based casino sector, which it says amounts to nearly €100 million.
Last week, the Greek media revealed that the Single Social Security Entity (EFKA) had issued letters to local casino companies, stating that they were responsible for overdue payments that were worth millions of euros for social security. It was also reported that EFKA has given the operators in question until the end of the month to meet their obligations.
If they don’t comply with the EFKA instruction, the government could impose a two-month suspension of operating licenses. Beyond that, they can also permanently revoke a casino’s licence. Licences for gambling operators in Greece are overseen by the Hellenic Gambling Commission.
The largest share of outstanding debt is believed to be owned by the Club Hotel Casino Loutraki, at roughly €18 million. Two years ago, the venue suffered a shutdown after it was alleged that the operator had not paid tax on its revenue. The casino subsequently argued that the government in fact owed it money, an issue that is still being appealed by the government.
It has also been reported that casinos located in Corfu, Thrace and Rio, which are owned by Konstantinos Piladakis, are also on the list, although three other casinos, based in Thessaloniki, Florina and Parnitha, are not believed to be under threat.
The latest round of acrimony between the government and the gambling industry is another illustration of the animosity that exists between the two groups. Efforts to launch an integrated gambling resort near Athens have also stalled and the government has failed to push through with an overdue reform of the country’s online gambling laws.