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Most Bets Off: COVID-19 Keeps Greeks From Gambling, Except Online

ATHENS – Notorious for card playing, betting and rolling the dice, Greeks have shied away from gambling during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, with the take falling 40 percent the first five months of 2020.

The drop was also largely attributed to sports being shut down and people not allowed into stadia to watch games that resumed and public gambling parlors also among non-essential businesses closed during a long lockdown.

Figures released by the Hellenic Gaming Commission (HGC) show the local online gambling market generated revenue of about 150 million euros ($176.71 million) through May, CalvinAyre.com reported.

January – before COVID-19 was recognized – brought in 49.3 million euros ($58.08 million) but dropped to 36.1 million euros ($42.53 million) in March, the lockdown beginning the 23d of that month and lasting up to 10 weeks.

The shutdown saw the numbers fall fast, with May seeing only a 30 million-euro ($35.34 million) take as the parlors were operating.

Greek lottery and betting operator OPAP, which is in the process of acquiring a majority stake in Stoiximan, saw its online revenue almost entirely erased over 2020’s first five months, the site said.

The company’s fledgling online operations didn’t add casino games until May, leaving it without any options when sports shut down but some operators saw increases through online betting and gambling from their homes.

The New Democracy government is planning to re-license the online market after its draft regulations met with little opposition from the European Commission, the report said.

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