Greece is the cradle of western civilisation as we know it. This nation is the birthplace of philosophy, democracy, political science and the Olympic Games. The economic freedom and relaxed attitude towards various types of activities made ancient Greece an excellent country for gambling to thrive and local citizens today continue with this tradition. Nowadays however Greece doesn’t show the same open-minded approach its ancestors had. OPAP, a state-run company, holds a strict monopoly over both online and offline betting in the country. Despite several warnings from the EU Commission, many betting sites in Greece are still unable to really penetrate the market. OPAP’s monopoly will end in 2020 and that sparked new talks around further betting regulations.
So, is sports betting legal in Greece? As of 1996 betting is legal in the country and this is also the moment when OPAP became a leading figure in the industry. However, with online betting becoming more and more centralized, the state monopoly offered perfect conditions for the development of a huge black market. With nobody to compete with, OPAP didn’t offer advantageous odds or high-quality services so it was natural for punters to search for more lucrative bet sites in Greece.
As a response to the huge number of punters choosing international sports betting companies in Greece, the authorities created a ‘Black list’ to keep track of all bookies offering their services to Greek punters and block the access to their domains. The list included huge names in the betting industry like Ladbrokes, Betsson or 888. Big players in the industry like William Hill and Sportingbet, alongside the EU Commission, repeatedly pressured the Greek authorities to liberalize the betting market and give them a fighting chance. Years of lobbying remained without response until 2011 when the Greek government decided it would start to issue licenses for bookmakers that were willing to apply. However, the initiative was quickly turned around by the same people.
For the best bet site, Greece started to look like a lost cause until 2013 when the EU finally concluded that the monopoly over online and offline betting in Greece is illegal. With such a clear signal that further steps needed to be taken towards allowing other bookmakers to penetrate the market, the Greece gambling authority started to issue interim licenses. No less than 24 EU-licensed bookmakers applied and received such licenses.
The measure taken in 2013 seemed to be enough to keep everyone happy, however, in 2018 new talks about online betting regulations started. With the monopoly expiry date just around the corner, the plan is to allow all interim licensees to apply for a full 5-year license. This doesn’t mean that all of them will proceed to do so since the costs are set around €4 million for online sports betting only. If the company also wishes to offer other types of games such as casino, a further €1 million must be paid and operators that were added to the black list will not be allowed to apply for a license. Furthermore there are other good news for Greek punters. Besides giving them access to the best bookmakers, Greece will also scratch the gambling tax that currently exists. The current gambling law requests that a 15% tax is applied for wins between €100 and €500, while all wins over €500 are taxed with 20%.
With the 24 interim licensees active in Greece, the stage is set for some healthy competition. The best betting websites in Greece are always looking to stand out from the crowd and you can easily identify the ones that really mean business. The first thing to look for is a solid license, issued in an EU country. UKGC and MGA are the most trustworthy licensing authorities so a bookie licensed by either one is a sure choice.
No matter if you like to claim bonuses for your deposits or not, making sure you get the best possible odds is also a must. And, if you like to boost your winning chances with sign-up offers and other bonuses, make sure the bookie you choose has some appealing deals for you. Last but not least, since football betting is huge in Greece, a wide range of football markets with both domestic and international competitions is mandatory. The current online sports betting leaders in Greece are Bet365 and Stoiximan that amount for over 80% of all the revenue.
Apart from the 24 bookies with interim licenses, there are a lot of sportsbooks that were added to the Black List for delivering their services to Greek punters. However, despite all the restrictions in Greece, betting laws do not mention any consequences for players accessing these websites. So, even if the internet service providers block the domains, you can easily gain access to them through a VPN software. There are some bookies that use mirror websites to automatically redirect you to an unblocked domain in case the main one gets blocked. Despite the effort from the authorities, a big portion of the online gambling in Greece is still attributed to the black market.
When using licensed bookies in Greece, you shouldn’t worry about any restrictions when it comes to payment options diversity. However, the capital controls that were introduced in the summer of 2015 did make it impossible for Greek punters to use their cards and bank accounts to finance their betting accounts. As a direct consequence, ewallets like Skrill and Viva Wallet boomed in popularity, a situation that is valid in present days as well.
The capital controls have relaxed in recent years and most Greek-licensed bookies decided to create local bank accounts to avoid any inconvenience for their customers. So, besides PayPal which is not available for betting payments, Greek punters can choose from a wide range of deposit and withdrawal options. Credit cards, bank transfer, ewallets and vouchers, can all be used to top up accounts at bookmakers in Greece.
Greek punters can access betting exchange the same way as they do with any other unlicensed bookmaker. Until the situation with full licenses is resolved, you best bet is to visit betting exchanges like Betfair, Smarkets or Betdaq via a VPN. Betfair used to be the biggest betting exchange in Greece, however, they decided to withdraw officially from the country.
Filing a complaint for anything that did not go well at a bookmaker is always recommended. If you are playing at any of the 24 bookmakers with interim licenses, you can address your grievances directly to the Hellenic Gaming Commission. Otherwise, you should always contact the licensing authority of the bookmaker ( UKGC, MGA, etc). We can also help you make your voice heard, simply drop us a message with the issue and we will do our best to contact the bookmaker on your behalf.