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Betting in Greece

Published on: 01/02/2016

The origins of gambling in Greece is extremely stretch back even further than the Olympic Games, which were first held in 776 BC. In Greek mythology, it is said that the gods threw dice to determine which area of the universe they would command. Today, the citizens enjoy playing Backgammon and lottery games machines, which can be found in numerous venues throughout the country; and sports betting is also very popular.

The Greek Organization of Football Prognostics (OPAP) is an independent company which has exclusive control over the nation’s sports gambling industry. The organisation has the monopoly rights until 2030. The current regulations were authorised by the Greek government in 1996.

In 2003, the Greek government prohibited all unlicensed gambling machines not located in authorised venues. The ban was prompted by a rise in unlawful gambling entities due to the shortage of lawful outlets. The prolific use of electronic devices for unlawful betting also became a major issue. Greece has one horseracing venue located in Attica, the track is called Markopoulo Racecourse. The country also has a cruise ship with a casino which mainly attracts tourists. To date, Greece only has ten major casino venues.

The strict rules have allowed the Greek Organisation of Football Prognostics (OPAP) to become the world’s largest sportsbook. Every year, the betting company gains huge wealth to the tune of many millions through its control of the betting industry, including the national lottery. This causes much annoyance to sportsbooks from abroad who are not permitted into the Greek market. However, unlawful gambling activities have increased to the point where they are matching the success of the Greek Organisation of Football Prognostics.

A UK sportsbook called Stanleybet set up a gambling establishment in Athens in 2008. Shortly afterwards the Greek authorities raided the venue, arrested staff members and seized money. Eventually, the Greek government gave way to pressure from the EU and the bookmakers reopened its doors.

With the Greek economy under major pressure, the government put forward plans to remove the electronic games betting ban in 2010. The amendments to the gambling laws did not include any proposals to offer trade to bookmakers from abroad. The gambling law in Greece still bans the use of foreign betting web sites, and the only form of online betting available is through the OPAP, which also provides the nations lottery games.

Citizens in Greece have an array of foreign sportsbooks who welcome their play such as Ladbrokes, Expekt, William Hill, Stan James, Bet365 and PartyBets, many of which offer information in the local language. Punters in Greece are prohibited from using these web sites however it is very difficult for the Greek government to enforce the ban.

Greece uses the Euro as its main currency and its citizens can use Visa Credit cards for transactions on over two thousand gambling web sites. Other payment companies including MasterCard, eWallets and NETeller also accept customers from Greece.