The news from Europe is bleak with central bankers forecasting that Europe could lose many years of growth as member states come to grip with huge debts.
Some would say the future has never been more uncertain. The reality is that the future has never been more certain. We are in for a lean time and lean times will ultimately hit the gambler’s appetite for gambling.
Greece has been hardest hit and the state monopoly OPAP has seen revenues decline on sports betting by 29% and 20% for lotteries.
Kyriakos Toptsidis, head of OPAP’s sales agents, said “What they say about poverty boosting gambling is a myth. When people do not have enough to eat, they do not buy lottery tickets. They may not stop altogether but they cut down.”
The austerity budgets in Greece have been severe.
In June 2011 the following budget was passed and there are more to come:
• Solidarity levy of between 1% and 5% of income levied on households
• Tax free threshold for income tax will be lowered from €12,000 to €8,000
• Increase on property taxes
• VAT to rise from 19% to 23%, 11% to 13% and 5.5% to 6.5%. VAT for restaurant and bars will increase from 13% to 23%
• Luxury taxes to be introduced on yachts, pools and cars
• Some tax exemptions to be scrapped
• One third increase on excises on fuel, tobacco and alcohol
• Special levies on profitable firms
• Nominal public sector wages will be cut by 15%
• Wages of employees of state owned companies cut by 30%, and cap on bonuses and wage increases
• All temporary contract in the PA terminated
• Health spending to be cut by €310m in 2011 and €1.8bn in 2012-2015
• Public investment to be cut by €850m in 2011
• Education budget to be reduced – 1,976 schools to merged or closed.
• Social security to be reduced by €1bn in 2011, €1.2bn in 2012, and €1bn in 2013.
• More means testing on benefits
• Further measures in combating tax evasion
• Retirement age to be raised to 65 with 40 years of work (contributions to be linked more closely with contributions)
• Privatisation: Hellenic Postbank, OPAP, port operators Pireus Port and Thessanlonki Port, Thessaloniki Water, 10% of Hellenic Telecom, Athens Water, Hellenic Petroleum, PCC (electricity), ATEbank, as well as airports, motorways, state land and mining rights
• Some taxes will be collected through the electricity bill to enforce payment
Greek austerity measures are equivalent to 13.7% of take home household income, equivalent to €5,600 per annum.