A DYNAMIC INDUSTRY
The Investor Greece 2022 I Gaming I Analysis
“BASED ON DATA BY THE HELLENIC GAMING COMMISSION FOR 2021, THE MARKET’S TOTAL GAMING REVENUE (TGR) REACHED ABOUT 22.496 BILLION EUROS, REPORTING AN INCREASE OF 35.44% COMPARED TO 2020.”
The gaming industry in Greece is very dynamic and evolving. Over the years, the sector has exhibited various transformations. Today, the evolution continues as a result of changing customer expectations and various technological advancements. In fact, many market executives expect that the coming years should be very interesting, as new trends emerge and new digital possibilities can reshape both the land-based and the online gaming market.
Based on data by the Hellenic Gaming Commission (HGC) for 2021, the market’s total gaming revenue (TGR) reached about 22.496 billion euros, reporting an increase of 35.44% compared to 2020. For the same period, the gross gaming revenue (GGR) of gaming providers in Greece amounted to 1.857 billion euros, posting a rise of 14.53% versus the previous year. It should be noted that land-based gaming accounted for 61.27% of the market’s GGR in 2021, whereas online gaming accounted for the remaining 38.73%.
At the same time, the Greek gaming market has a significant contribution to public coffers. Specifically, based on HGC data, the total direct proceeds of the Greek State from gaming operators reached about 558.8 million euros in 2021. This amount includes revenues deriving from operator licensing, the State’s participation in operator’s GGR, the tickets paid to enter land-based casinos, the taxation of player winnings and the attribution of unclaimed player winnings to the State.
In Greece, land-based games are conducted on the basis of exclusive rights granted by the Greek State. These include the games offered by OPAP, the leading gaming operator in Greece, and casinos. OPAP has the exclusive rights to a series of games that are available through its extensive land-based network, which consists of about 4,000 stores across the country. These games include numerical lotteries, retail sports betting, horseracing mutual betting (through its subsidiary Horse Races S.A.), lotteries and instant-win games (through its subsidiary Hellenic Lotteries S.A.), and video lottery terminals (VLTs). Land-based casino games (table games and casino slots) are offered through the ten licensed casinos operating in Greece.
In 2020 and 2021, the land-based gaming market experienced significant effects due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Both OPAP’s commercial network and casinos were forced to suspend operations for several months, as well as to adhere to strict healthcare rules and measures upon reopening, including the use of “green passes” for customers’ entrance and stay in the venues. Still, according to HGC, the performance of 2021 balanced the significant drop reported in 2020, during the first waves of the pandemic. This indicates the resilience of the land-based market, as well as its potential in the post-Covid era. Overall, based on HGC data, the land-based games conducted by OPAP and its subsidiaries accounted for 55.48% of the Greek gaming market’s total GGR in 2021. Finally, casinos accounted for 5.79% of the total market GGR in the same year.
Online is the fastest growing segment of the Greek gaming market. Also aided by the social distancing measures applied due to the Covid-19 pandemic, online gaming in Greece experienced double-digit GGR growing both in 2020 and in 2021. In 2019, the government revamped the legislative framework for the licensing and operation of online gaming companies in Greece. As a result, online operators are now licensed directly by the Hellenic Gaming Commission (HGC). Under this new framework, online companies can apply for seven-year licenses to provide online betting and/or casino games.
According to HGC data, in 2021, online GGR exceeded 719 million euros, posting an increase of 22.80% year-on-year. To date, sports betting is the leading segment in the online market, accounting for 55.3% of the total online GGR. By July 2021, 15 online operators had been granted a license, with the “go-live” of Greece’s regulated online market taking place in August. Interest in online gaming remains strong, as new operators recently submitted their applications for iGaming licenses. Overall, based on market forecasts, the Greek online gaming market is expected to grow further, reaching the landmark of 1 billion euros in GGR by 2024.
MARKET REGULATION AND SUPERVISION
Similar to most European countries, the Greek gaming market is regulated and controlled by an independent authority, the Hellenic Gaming Commission (HGC). HGC’s objectives are to regulate and control the gaming market, as well as set the standards to ensure that gaming in Greece is organized and conducted in a lawful, transparent, and fair manner, and that the interests of players and society are protected.
HGC is promoting various initiatives as part of its role in Greece’s gaming industry. Among other things, it plans to take initiatives aiming at supporting the Covid-hit land-based market. Reportedly, it is also planning to create a 24-hour service for the supervision of online games and land-based casinos, so as to maximize relevant benefits. The aim is to address issues in real-time, setting up a more efficient framework compared to the current one, as part of which online gaming providers send monthly reports of their daily activity.
OPAP: THE LEADER OF THE GREEK GAMING MARKET
OPAP is the leading gaming company in Greece and one of the most renowned in its industry worldwide. Founded in 1958, it operates and manages numerical lotteries, sports betting games, horseracing mutual betting, lotteries, instant win games, VLTs and online games. Moreover, OPAP holds a leading position in the sector in terms of embedding the global Responsible Gaming principles in its operations. OPAP is the only Greek gaming group to hold the World Lottery Association’s Level 4 certification for Responsible gaming, which is the highest globally. At the same time, OPAP holds a prominent position in the field of social contribution. Through its extensive Corporate Responsibility program, which focuses on Health, Sports and Employment, the company supports Greek society in practice, through initiatives that deliver tangible value and aim at helping build a better future for Greece’s younger generation.