Gambling and Greek culture are closely related. Evidence shows that luck-based games such as heads and tails and dice games date back to ancient Greece. Throughout the years, the gambling laws in Greece have changed multiple times. Luckily, gambling is legal nowadays, with online gambling being the most popular entertainment among Greek people. However, Greece’s path toward liberalizing its gambling market was long and thorny.
For years, the Greek gambling market was subject to a monopoly held by the state-controlled company OPAP. But the European Union rebuked Greece for its stringent rules regarding online gambling. In an attempt to overcome the financial crisis and under pressure from the EU, Greek legislators liberalized the online gambling market.
Casino Sites in Greece
Online gambling has been legal in Greece since 2011. At the moment, there are not many web-based casinos licensed by the country’s regulator because foreign operators have been allowed to apply for full licenses since 2019. However, more brands are expected to enter the Greek market soon. When selecting a web-based casino, you must consider several aspects, including supported payment methods,casino no deposit bonuses on offer, withdrawal timeframes, and others. Greek players looking for safe gambling sites should check our list of top online casinos.
Best Casino Bonuses in Greece
Greek players can pick from a limited number of gambling sites licensed by the Greek regulator. However, casino fans from Greece can benefit from various promotions. The promotions up for grabs are what attract players to a given online casino. That is why operators often offer generous casino bonuses for newcomers and existing casino enthusiasts. Before claiming a promotion, read the free bonus terms and make sure you understand them. If you have questions, do not hesitate to contact the casino’s customer support department.
When you set up an account at an online casino, you will be offered a Welcome Bonus. But to claim a Welcome Bonus, Greek players must make a qualifying deposit. The Welcome Bonus will match your first deposit up to a certain amount. The offer may also include free spins. Do not forget that Welcome Bonuses are associated with wagering requirements that you have to meet before cashing out your profits. You will also have to comply with the maximum bet limit imposed by the operator.
No Deposit Bonus
Some Greek web-based casinos also offer a one-time bonus that requires no deposit. Such bonuses are designed to lure in newcomers and allow them to try the web-based casino without risking their funds. Players must satisfy the wagering requirement associated with the no deposit bonus to withdraw their winnings. Note that web-based casinos usually impose a cap on the maximum withdrawable winnings.
Many gambling sites host a range of reload bonuses to keep their regular players entertained for a long. Reload bonuses are offered to casino fans who have deposited one or more times. Such incentives usually consist of a match deposit bonus and free spins. Sometimes reload promotions come as part of the welcome bonus. In that case, players will be awarded several bonuses on their first deposits.
Losing streaks can be discouraging. That is why some web-based casinos which accept players from Greece feature cashback bonuses. These promotions provide casino enthusiasts with the opportunity to get back a percentage of their net losses incurred over a period of time. Usually, cashback bonuses come with a low wagering requirement, which makes them even more appealing.
Many web-based casinos geared toward the Greek market feature point-based loyalty schemes. Players earn comp points every time they make a real-money wager and can exchange them for bonus cash when they collect enough of them. Loyalty schemes usually include VIP levels. The more points you earn, the higher your VIP status will be. Higher VIP levels offer more generous rewards. Some casino operators treat their loyal patrons to exclusive promotions, birthday gifts, higher withdrawal limits, and a personal VIP host.
Casino Regulation in Greece
Greece legalized land-based gambling establishments back in 1994 after passing Law 2204. The law allowed for nine gambling licenses for land-based casinos to be awarded. At the moment, there are a total of 8 brick-and-mortar casinos in Greece, attracting the attention of thousands of tourists. Statistics show that a large chunk of the gross gaming revenue (GGR) comes from land-based casinos.
When it comes to Internet gambling, things are not so straightforward. In 2002, the country introduced a blanket ban on all forms of electronic gambling in a bid to clamp down on illegal gambling practices. But the law failed to differentiate between online gambling, offline gambling, and online video games, prohibiting Internet cafes from offering even video games.
For years, the provision of gambling services in Greece was subject to a monopoly held by the state-run sports betting and lottery platform OPAP, which was established in 1958. But the European Union scolded Greece for its restrictive gambling laws, stating that the country’s gambling monopoly violates the EU’s trade agreements.
Legislators finally succumbed to the pressure from the European Union. In 2011, Law № 4002/2011 also known as the Gambling Act was passed, legalizing online gambling and allowing the issue of temporary licenses for online gambling and sports betting. The government granted 24 gambling permits to reputable operators such as William Hill and Betfair.
But one year later, the Greek Ministry of Finance came up with a proposal to monopolize the online gambling market, and licensed operators were urged to leave the market. As a result, many operators brought legal challenges, alleging that Greece’s gambling laws violate the EU’s policies on free trading. In 2013, OPAP’s monopoly was ruled illegal by the Court of Justice of the European Union.
The same year, Greece sold its remaining 33% stake in OPAP to Emma Delta, finalizing OPAP’s privatization. However, this did not affect OPAP’s gambling monopoly. In 2014, a Greek court announced that OPAP’s gambling monopoly is in line with EU laws as it aims at fighting organized crime.
Between 2013 and 2016, Greece witnessed a significant drop in revenue. It was reported that the gambling industry generated only €60,000 in revenues for that period. In 2016, the government announced plans to revamp its gambling regulations and open the market for foreign operators. In 2019, Greek lawmakers approved the new online gambling regulations, and a year later, Greece’s gambling authority, the Hellenic Gaming Commission, issued a public invitation, allowing operators to apply for licenses.
A crucial thing to mention is that bet exchange sites are not legal in Greece.
Obtaining a Greek License
Operators interested in entering the Greek market can apply for two types of licenses – for online sports betting and casino-style games. Both licenses are valid for 7 years, and operators must apply for a renewal at least a year before their licenses expire. Operators must pay an application fee of €10,000 and a license fee of €3 million for sports betting and €2 million for online games.
To obtain a license, applicants must have a minimum capital of €200,000 and a bank guarantee of €10,000. Besides, operators must use a .gr domain and base their servers within the country.
Greek players should know that their gambling winnings are subject to taxes. No taxes apply to winnings below €100. But if your profits are from €100 to €500, you will be taxed at a rate of 15%. Winnings exceeding €500 are subject to a 20% tax.
Responsible Gambling Practices
To protect vulnerable players and minors from gambling problems, the Greek government passed several provisions regarding gambling commercials. According to Article 35 of the Gaming Act, operators are prohibited from encouraging gambling participation by promising massive profits. Furthermore, commercials must not suggest that gambling is an important source of revenue. Moreover, gambling ads should not provide misleading information or hint that players can predict the outcomes of the games. Gambling advertisements are allowed on social media as long as they do not target minors.
According to the law, individuals under the age of 21 are not allowed to participate in gambling activities. In 2019, Greek lawmakers introduced strict restrictions regarding RNG games after trying to ban online slots on multiple occasions. Players were allowed to wager no more than €2 per spin. Besides, a cap of €5,000 was imposed on the maximum prize per gaming session. Moreover, slot games must have at least 3 seconds between spins.
But in May 2022, Greek lawmakers agreed to relax the restrictions, raising the stake limit to €20 and decreasing the minimum amount of time between two game rounds to 2 seconds. The maximum prize a given casino game can offer was also increased from €70,000 to €140,000.
What currencies are accepted by Greek gambling sites?
Most web-based casinos accepting players from Greece support various currencies, including EUR. Since EUR is Greece’s official currency, we advise our readers to select EUR as a preferred currency when setting up a casino account. Otherwise, they may incur hefty currency conversion fees. Some web-based casinos do not allow Greek players to select a currency different from EUR.
Can I use my smartphone to play at a Greek-friendly casino?
Yes, all web-based casinos licensed by the Hellenic Gaming Commission are optimized for mobile use. Some support a browser-based app only, while others offer a downloadable app. Casino enthusiasts can download and install a casino app on their touchscreen devices without paying any fees. If the storage space of your device is limited, you can load the gambling site directly in your mobile web browser.
Do I have to pay taxes on my winnings?
Yes, income from gambling is taxable according to Greek law. The tax rate depends on the amount you have won, ranging from 15% to 20%. The Player Withholding Tax (PWT) is deducted from winnings per gaming session. This way, the government ensures that every casino fan will pay the tax.
Which payment methods can I use to top up my gambling balance?
Since online gambling is legal in Greece, casino fans can use various trustworthy payment methods to fund their casino accounts and withdraw their profits. Some of the most widespread banking methods include Visa, Mastercard, Neteller, Skrill, ecoPayz, Bank Transfer, and others. Deposits are processed on the spot, while withdrawals take a little longer, depending on the preferred payment method.
How can I be sure that a web-based casino is safe?
Before you join a web-based casino, you must be sure that it is licensed and corresponds to your preferences. Casino fans can find information about the casino’s license in the footer of the gambling site. Besides, a reputable web-based casino features a separate section dedicated to responsible gambling. Online casinos licensed by the Hellenic Gaming Commission can be easily recognized as they carry the logo of the Greek regulator and use .gr domain.