Written On 5/9/11 By Recentpoker.com staff writer Lenny Wasman :
OPAP has ambitions both within and outside its homeland, especially over the internet, chief exec reveals
In an interview with the Bloomberg news service this week Ioannis Spanoudakis, chief executive of the Greek gambling monopoly OPAP, said his company has ambitious expansion plans that include the internet.
However, the company also has to find a balance between cutting payroll costs whilst remaining competitive, he cautioned.
“We are not looking just to become a more cost-effective, productive company, but we are looking to be involved in more business opportunities in Greece, on the internet and outside of Greece,” he told the news agency.
The payroll reduction plan apparently does not involve extensive job cutting, although Spanoudakis could not reveal the detail until he had final board approval. However, the arrangements had been negotiated and agreed to by the relevant unions, he said.
Greece’s government is currently working on legalization to regulate the gambling market.
Licenses for video-lottery terminals, internet betting and an instant-lottery scratch game are “tremendous opportunities” for OPAP, Spandoukis said, adding: “We are going to fight for them."
Bloomberg notes that last month the Greek government announced plans to sell its 34 percent stake in OPAP in 2012, call a tender for the national lottery and sell its holdings in land casinos as part of a state- asset sale to raise Euros 50 billion through 2015 to help pay down the country’s debt.
The national lottery is an “attractive opportunity,” while the company doesn’t plan to bid for the land casino assets, Spanoudakis said. There haven’t been any talks on government plans to extend the company’s monopoly on sports betting, currently until 2020, he revealed.
Greece’s illegal gambling market is worth over Euros 4 billion a year, the Greek finance ministry claimed earlier this year.
Spanoudakis predicted that OPAP earnings will be weaker in 2011 due to the recessive nature of the economy. Net profit in the second half of 2010 reached Euros 323.9 million off sales of Euros 2.4 billion.