Monday February 4,2013 : GREEKS CHANGE TAX THRESHOLD ON GAMBLING WINS
 
Move seen by observers as a move by government to protect monopoly OPAP's sales performance
 
The Greek newspaper Ekathimerini reports that the Greek government is attempting to protect the sales performance of its partly owned gambling monopoly OPAP by introducing a tax-free threshold on small gambling winnings.
 
The newspaper says that the cash-strapped government is attempting to increase tax receipts without hurting the monopoly's sales.
 
According to a legislative amendment to be submitted to parliament soon, OPAP players' winnings will be taxed progressively, the finance ministry told the Reuters news agency.
 
The move scraps a 10-percent flat rate on all winnings which was announced in September as part of government efforts to plug its budget deficit.
 
Winnings between 100 and 500 euros will be henceforth taxed at 15 percent and those above at 20 percent, the Finance Ministry said. Winnings below 100 euros will be tax free.
 
Earlier, analysts had criticised the flat-rate taxation, arguing it would discourage small-time punters and hurt company sales and tax receipts.
 
Thirty-four-percent state-owned OPAP is one of Europe's biggest and most controversial gambling companies. It is worth Euro 2 billion on the Athens Stock Exchange, making it Greece's third-biggest company by market value.
 
Rivals such as William Hill and Stanleybet, and trade bodies like the Remote Gaming Association and the European Gaming and Betting Association have challenged its monopoly and taxation regime in Greek and European courts.
 
The Greek government said on Sunday that it had obtained European Commission approval to scrap the flat tax rate. A 30-percent levy on OPAP gross earnings, also announced in September, remains unchanged.