1/4/10 – The Greek government has named Yannis Spanoudakis, a senior Athens 2004 Olympics organiser, as the new chief executive officer of Europe's biggest betting company OPAP, a company spokesman has revealed. 
 
"The Greek state proposes Yannis Spanoudakis as new CEO and Haris Stamatopoulos as new Chairman," OPAP's outgoing CEO Christos Hadjiemmanouil said at a general shareholders meeting held to approve the appointments earlier this week. The appointments were approved.
 
Spanoudakis was a former managing director with the Athens 2004 Olympics organising committee and a senior executive with Dow Chemical. Stamatopoulos is a former chief of the Athens International Airport, reports Reuters, explaining that the Greek government is OPAP's biggest shareholder, with a 34 percent stake, and that Hadjiemmanouil and other board members had offered their resignations after the new Socialist government came to power in the October 4th national elections.
 
OPAP has a state monopoly on sports betting and lotteries until 2020 but is facing stiff competition from foreign Internet bookmakers, although online betting is still illegal in Greece.
 
Analysts are concerned about the impact of any new gaming taxes imposed on the company as the Greek government struggles to balance its budgetry books. A controversial 10 percent personal lottery tax on punters has been suspended until April 30.
 
Shares in OPAP, down 25 percent since the start of the year, have underperformed a 23 percent rise of the Athens bourse's benchmark index according to Reuters.