CHAIRMAN OF THE HELLENIC GAMING COMMISSION
Greece 2022 I Gaming I Leader
_BIOGRAPHY He is a former Certified Auditor with 46 years of continuous professional employment. He has served as Chairman of the Board of Directors of one of the big four Greek auditing companies for 21 years, from 1996 to 2017. He holds a PhD in accounting, auditing and taxation. He has authored several books on International Accounting Standards, International Standards on Auditing and Income Taxation.
“GREECE OFFERS POLITICAL AND SOCIAL STABILITY, A COMPETENT SCIENTIFIC STAFF, FUNCTIONAL AND MODERN INFRASTRUCTURES, A GOOD INVESTMENT ENVIRONMENT AND GREAT EXTROVERSION.”
YOU HAVE BEEN APPOINTED IN 2021. CAN YOU TELL US MORE ABOUT YOUR PRIORITIES AND ACHIEVEMENTS SINCE?
Since my appointment our main priorities were set, most of which have been implemented to date. Those priorities were divided into two main pillars, the first concerning the internal environment of HGC, while the second the external which consists of the supervised entities. As far as the internal environment is concerned, my first priority was to strengthen HGC and create a stable environment, by retaining existing staff, which has been steadily declining in recent years and then by further staffing of HGC with specialized staff. This priority was first achieved in November 2021 when the Greek Parliament voted a series of regulations that address staff-related issues and enabled staffing of the Commission at the necessary level.
The second priority concerned the strengthening and deepening of relations with the supervised entities and was developed at a very decent level for all three gambling sectors that exist in Greece, and in particular OPAP (Greek Organisation of Football Prognostics S.A.), casinos and the online gaming companies which were licensed for the first time in August 2021. For the years 2022-2023, the completion of staffing is of strategic importance, which will develop within the framework of a defined road map, and it is estimated that it will be completed with the recruitment of permanent staff by the end of 2023.
In 2022 we have designed and are already working on a plan for the overall reorganization of the administrative structures of the HGC so that it can be more effective. Another primary goal for 2022 is the issuance of New wide-range activities Casino Operating Licenses (EKAZ) to Casino companies that have the appropriate specifications and the reorganization of some Casino companies that present financial stability problems.
WHAT HAVE BEEN THE MOST IMPORTANT PROJECTS IN GREECE'S GAMING SECTOR RECENTLY?
In 2021, fifteen companies that were already operating under an interim regime were licensed under the new legal framework, while applications from another two companies submitted and are now in the final stage of licensing. Regarding the operation of Regency Casino Mont Parnes (Mount Parnitha), which in 2021 requested to move to the urban area of Athens, in the area of Maroussi, the HGC promptly and consistently completed the relevant audits and has submitted its positive proposal to the Minister of Finance about the transfer of Casino in Parnitha to the area of Maroussi, Attica.
“OUR GOAL IS TO CREATE A FRIENDLY
THAT WILL ATTRACT YOUNG SCIENTISTS,
SOFTWARE DEVELOPERS AND MARKETERS.”
The Casino in Hellinikon - Ag. Kosmas Metropolitan Pole, in “Athens Riviera”, only recently all the procedures concerning the HGC have been completed and the relevant file with the draft concession agreement has been forwarded to the Minister of Finance in order to sign the relevant agreement and start the implementation of the investment. Finally, for the Casino in Heraklion, Crete, in the area of Gournes, we are in constant contact with the new owner of the area, in order to promote as soon as possible and in the best possible way the procedures concerning this large investment in the gaming sector.
WHAT ARE YOUR MAIN PRIORITIES IN THE DEVELOPING THE GAMING INDUSTRY IN GREECE?
Regarding the Casino companies that were significantly affected by the pandemic, we will continue to strengthen the new investments and the reorganization of the problematic ones. OPAP agencies, which consist of a large number of small businesses, were also significantly affected by Covid-19 and to the extent that it falls in our field of work, we will try to support them to overcome the effects of the pandemic on their profitability and operation, including tackling the problem of player leakage to other gaming activities, for which we will seek, as far as possible, to return to the agencies. Regarding the online gaming market which now operates under the new regulatory framework, we realize that it has tremendous potential for future development. Also, tackling illegal gambling will always be a great challenge and primary goal for us. The gaming market and in particular online gaming is at the forefront of new technologies. We do not see this market only as a source of revenue from the operation of licensed gaming entities. If our goals are realized, the impact of this market on the country's GDP will increase, respectively. Our goal is to create a friendly institutional framework that will attract young scientists, software developers and marketers. In this direction, as HGC, we will assist with all the means that we have at our disposal. We also participate in various European and international bodies / forums in order to exchange good practices and apply international standards, something that we will continue and expand.
My message to international investors is to come and invest in Greece. It has always been a very beautiful country with hospitable people and a pleasant way of life. Apart from these positive qualities, it offers political and social stability, a competent scientific staff, functional and modern infrastructures, a good investment environment and great extroversion. All these combined with the fact that we are coming out of a long period of successive crises, which have matured our people and leaders, but also the conceived geopolitical reshuffles, make Greece an attractive destination for foreign investments.