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Greek Online Gambling in critical situation

Greek Parliament is struggling to find solutions to extinguish the country’s public debt.

The Greek Government must meet its debt obligations to the EU and the International Monetary Fund. Therefore Greece was supposed to legalize online gambling and pass the stake to the state gambling monopoly, OPAP.

Stunningly, the draft proposed by the Greek authorities was rejected because of the lack of compliance with the EU laws. However, Greeks continued with their proposal, getting them in the danger of being launched infringement proceedings upon. This way the Greek Government could be taken to the European Court of Justice, but it seems the Greek Government is willing to risk it.

The bigger problem in this scenario is the selling of the 34% controlling stake that Greek government owns in OPAP. The Finance Minister of Greece, Evangelos Venizelos, shocked the public when he announced that the government may not sell the stake in OPAP this year, as initially agreed. The reason for this is that the government didn’t commit to sell the stake in OPAP, but to generate profit from it to reduce the public debt. While the cabinet is seeking for solutions, Venizelos astonishes the parliament stating that the management control granted by OPAP is the reason why politicians do not want to sell it.

OPAP is profitable and without debts. The 34% stake of Greece worth about €1.17 billion. The sale of the state’s stake in OPAP, also losing the management this way, can raise up to €1.2 billion and additional €500 millions by selling the online gaming licenses. According to Venizelos, the target to present is €1.7 billion until the end of September and €5 billion till the end of the year. If the government doesn’t comply, it will risk the financial support package. However, the options discussed do not approach to the amount. One option would be to raise €400 million by extending OPAP’s license, while the second one is to give an exclusive license to OPAP to operate all the 35,000 video lotto machines to be set up in the country.

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