With Greece standing firm on its commitment to keeping its gambling industry shut to foreign competition, operators are placing more and more pressure on the government to move past this policy. UK online gambling group, Stanleybet is now the latest company to threaten to sue Greece for its monopoly through the state-owned OPAP, saying it will seek damages of at least €240 million in lost revenues since 2004.
Stanleybet said that the Greek government had rejected its request to offer sports betting in the European country in 2004 , a rejection which the gambling group claims resulted in hundreds of millions of Euros worth of damages.
Stanleybet is challenging OPAP’s monopoly on all sports betting and lotteries in the country, something which will continue until at least 2030.
The Chief Operating Officer of Stanleybet, John Whittaker said: “The Greek authorities seem resolved to maintain an illegal framework benefitting a company that is not 99% private. With this action, Stanleybet is legitimately stating its intention to claim its legal rights to be compensated.”
Greece announced earlier this month that it will be selling a controlling stake in OPAP to Emma Delta, a Greek-Czech joint venture investment fund.
This is certainly not the first time that Athens has come under pressure to make sweeping changes to its gambling industry. In January this year, the European Court of Justice ruled that OPAP’s monopoly is not legal and urged Greece to bring about reforms to open up its industry.
In addition, trade groups such as the European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA) and the Remote Gambling Association (RGA), have filed their own complaints with the European Commission, claiming that Greece breaches trade laws signed between European Union members.
Stanleybet has teamed up with its rival William Hill and has brought a case against the Greek government. The trial is due to be held from October this year.
Recently, OPAP announced that profits for its first quarter finances dropped by 71% as a result of Greece introducing a new gaming tax which is weighed on earnings.
Compared to €131.9 million in net income recorded in the first quarter last year, this past quarter saw a drop of to just €38.9 million.
The government imposed a 30% tax on gross gaming revenue from 2013, taxing winnings as part of a recovery plan for the Greek economy.
The fixed odds sports betting game Pame Stihima showed a revenue drop of 27% and Kino showed an 11% drop in revenue.