Illegal gambling at internet cafes and mini-casinos appears to be a rising problem in Greece judging from the number of times unauthorised gambling operations have been brought to light. The police made 300 arrests in 51 raids in the last fortnight of 2016 alone.
According to official figures released by gaming watchdog Hellenic Gaming Commission (EEEP), over the last year police raided 480 establishments suspected of operating unlicensed gambling terminals or illegal casino games, made a total of 1,513 arrests and seized €160,000 in cash.
During the raids authorities have also seized hundreds of computers that were illegally used as video lotto terminals (VLTs). VLTs appear to be the game of choice for Greek citizens seeking to gamble.
Experts estimate that illegal VLT gambling is 1 billion euro market in Greece and causes the loss from taxes of around 300-400 million euros.
Authorities believe that it is extremely difficult to combat this issue as the fines for operating illegal gambling machines are low compared with the profit that is potentially gained. Some illegal operators keep on offering their services in the same location even after they are being fined. One example of such case is an establishment in the centre of Serres in northern Greece that was raided eight times in under 3 months and all those times was found to be in violation of gambling law.
The Greek independent authority Commission for Supervision and Regulation of Gaming introduced a project to grant further licenses in order to operate authorised slot machines.
However, long-delayed plans to add an additional 35,000 VLTs to the Greek market have faced yet another obstacle when several local casino operators filed a formal motion to block the process based on a perceived threat to their own operations.