Sunday April 13,2014 : GREEK ONLINE GAMBLING MONOPOLY IN QUESTION
European Commission is asking awkward questions.
The attempt by the Greek government and its former state owned gambling monopoly OPAP (since sold off to the Emma Delta consortium for Euro 652 million – see previous InfoPowa reports) to entrench a new online gambling monopoly appears to face a European Commission challenge, judging by a recent press report in the newspaper Ekathimerini.
With the Greek cabinet pressing Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras to push through parliament a measure enabling an OPAP monopoly, and major online gambling groups in other EU nations kicking up some serious dust in protest, the European Commission has now started asking probing questions; among them evidence of the consideration paid by OPAP for exclusive online gambling rights and full details on the agreement.
The Greek government's position is complicated by its decision almost three years ago to issue temporary online gambling licenses to a number of EU member nation gambling firms, no doubt seeking to avoid a confrontation with the European Commission over free movement of goods and services.
Barely a year later the Greeks unilaterally revoked the licenses as they tried to line up an internet gambling monopoly for OPAP. That incurred the justified wrath of the previously licensed companies and attracted criticism from the European Court of Justice, which required the Greeks to rethink their plans and submit a more acceptable alternative…a matter that is still outstanding.
Adding more pressure, unidentified members of the Remote Gaming Association have commenced litigation against the Greek government, accusing it of deliberately passing over their applications for gambling licenses in order to secure the sale of OPAP to Emma Delta.
There could be big money at risk for Emma Delta; with the World Cup football in Brazil on the horizon, OPAP has been pushing forward with its GTech-powered online sports book ambitions, and has big plans for an exclusive online gambling licence that will remain in force until 2020 if the government can push the enabling legalization through parliament and EU objections.