ATHENS – Desperate for cash as an avalanche of tax hikes has driven down expected revenues, Greece’s ruling Radical Left SYRIZA-led coalition wants to put casinos on the top tourist islands of Santorini and Mykonos as well as Crete.
Gaming licenses for those island were put into a draft bill tabled in Parliament, the business newspaper Naftemporiki said, while another six casinos already in operation would be allowed to move, including the only one around Athens, the Hyatt Regency-run Mont Parnes atop Mt. Parnitha.
The bill would also allow the relocation of casinos in Thessaloniki, Loutraki, Rio (outside the western port city of Patras), Alexandroupolis, in the extreme northeast, and Florina, close to the border with Albania and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM).
A government report said the goal, besides bringing in cold cash, would be to tie gambling to tourists, to reduce the state’s share in licensed casinos’ gross profits, to impose a unified coefficient for the state’s stake in such concessions and to promote the “casino resort” model, one linked to shopping and hotels.
Under the draft bill, the semi-autonomous Hellenic Gaming Commission is given greater jurisdiction and acquires a decisive role in licensing and regulating casinos in the country.
That comes as what the government admitted was an overtaxing of the middle class has pushed down estimates of how much the hikes would bring in as more people are being driven to hide their incomes.
After promising to protect low-income households while in opposition, SYRIZA has since imposed the highest rate of indirect taxes in the last decade, amounting to 15.1 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP,) Kathimerini said.
Direct taxes this year are bringing in just 17.59 billion euros ($20.86 billion) according to the latest data, against 19.25 billion euros ($22.83 billion) in 2016, a big drop of 1.66 billion euros ($1.97 billion) despite new taxes expected to reach up to 1 billion euros ($1.19 billion).
Corporate taxes expected to bring in 3.04 billion euros ($3.6 billion) have resulted in only 2.81 billion euros ($3.33 billion), falling from 3.18 billion euros ($3.77 billion) in 2016 before the tax tsunami as Tsipras lowered the boom on taxpayers.