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Greek Gambling On The Up

According to statistics released by the National Federation Of Bookmakers, Greeks spent over ten billions dollars online last year even though the activity is not strictly legal.

The Federation revealed that the size of the gambling market in total has almost tripled in three years with Greeks last year staking over $23 billion. This has placed an ever-higher premium on lawsuits designed to crack open the national monopoly.

Statistics show that the European nation's annual gambling turnover in 2007 was equal to approximately eight percent of its gross domestic product (GDP) and larger than the market capitalisation of Greek Telecom. Greeks gambled just over $9.5 billion in 2005 and $13 billion the following year with the nation's nine casinos welcoming over 200,000 visitors in the last few days of 2007 and the first days of January.

However, the availability of Internet gambling has triggered a year-round gaming frenzy with the main reason for players taking part being to improve their finances.

‘Internet gambling is a relatively new phenomenon," said Graham Sharp, Media Relations Manager for William Hill.

"It was introduced back in 1998 during the football World Cup in France and as people became more computer-literate, online gambling increased. We have over 292,000 active internet gambling clients, from dozens of countries all around the world."

According to a 2002 law, all electronic games involving betting are banned, including computer games. The law was introduced on the back of a public outcry following revelations regarding widespread illegal gambling in the country after some gaming arcade owners were found to have rigged their devices’ software and converted these into gambling machines.

Greece now faces legal action from several bookmakers arguing that the 2002 law may breach European laws on free movement of services with the European Commission having already warned the Government.