Greece lawmakers are preparing to vote on a bill that would legalize three casinos in the popular tourism destinations of Crete, Santorini, and Mykonos, and also allow the country’s current gambling establishments to relocate.

Greece casinos gambling economy

Tourists to the Acropolis and Parthenon might soon have more to do than just take selfies, as Greece mulls allowing casinos to encroach on the country’s most visited places. (Image: Greek Reporter)

The latter is perhaps the more important part of the legislation, as the Regency Casino Mont Parnes, the only gambling floor in the Athens area, could move down off the mountain and into the ancient capital.

The Greek Parliament is expected to vote on the measure before Christmas. Reports out of the southeastern European nation claim the casino bill has the adequate support required for passage.

Should the bill become law, the Hellenic Gaming Commission would take on a greater responsibility in overseeing an expanded casino market. The commission would be tasked with licensing the three properties, and regulating any relocation requests.

The gambling statute would also amend the country’s current gaming tax on operators to a flat tax. The specific rate would be determined at a later date. Casinos presently share between 22 percent and 35 percent of their gross gaming revenue with the federal government.

Greece is home to nine gambling venues, two of which are casino cruises.

With over 700 slot machines and 50 table games, the Regency Casino Mont Parnes is Greece’s largest gaming floor. The casino and hotel is some 25 miles from the Acropolis, the primary tourism attraction for visitors to Athens.

Tourism de Force

Greece is still in the early stages of a recovery after a debt crisis led to the country being bailed out by the European Union to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars. But today, there is hope for the world’s oldest country.

For the first time in more than a decade, Greece’s economy expanded for a third consecutive quarter, with gross domestic product (GDP) up a small 0.3 percent in the three months ending September 30.

Tourism played a major role in the country continuing its upward trend. The service export industry, which includes the tourism market, posted a nearly 10 percent gain during the three-month period.

Parliament hopes allowing casinos in tourism-rich locales will further the travel growth. Relocating and building new gambling venues will presumably also lead to private companies making new investments in Greece. Investment decreased six percent in the third quarter, according to the Hellenic Statistical Authority.

Integrated Resorts

Greece is the 50th largest economy in the world, with GDP totaling $194 billion last year. Tourism accounts for about 18 percent of the country’s economic activity. Greece welcomed about 29 million international arrivals in 2016.

To improve on that number, lawmakers are taking a page out of the playbooks of regions like Macau, Manila, and Singapore, and trying to spur the development of integrated casino resorts.

The bill before parliament says the goal is to connect the gaming sector with tourism. That’s accomplished, according to lawmakers, by promoting the “casino resort” concept that incorporates shopping, dining, and entertainment into the casino property.