12/11/2012 : OPAP ASKED TO UP THE ANTE FOR NEW MONOPOLY
 
But online gambling operators slam the idea as "a disgrace'.
 
According to Reuters news agency reports, the Greek privatisation agency HRADF wants the domestic gambling monopoly OPAP – the only bidder – to up its purchase offer for a 12-year exclusive licence that will extend to online activity.
 
OPAP tabled a binding offer with its gaming technology partners Intralot, Lottomatica and Scientific Games on Monday this week.
 
"The new financial offer will be evaluated by HRADF's board of directors at its next meeting on Wednesday," it said on Monday.
 
However, international online gambling groups have labelled the plan ‘a disgrace', with Sportingbet plc vociferous in its condemnation, but indicating that it will continue to operate in the Greek market for now. The company is currently the subject of an acquisition initiative by William Hill plc and GVC plc.
 
24 online gambling firms have signed interim licences to operate in Greece, but following the monopoly deal with OPAP will presumably have to exit the Greek market.
 
OPAP already enjoys a monopoly on offline betting, but the Greek finance ministry is now proposing to end the interim licensing initiative and extend OPAP’s monopoly to include online sports betting and other gambling products, with a licence valid until 2020.
 
Sportingbet is understood to have 50,000 active Greek players who are expected to provide Euro 20 to Euro 25 million in revenues in 2013, and earnings of between Euro 3 million and Euro 4 million, reports the Financial Times.
 
A statement from Sportingbet noted: “It is scandalous that the Greek ministry of finance is planning to award OPAP an extension of its monopoly. What is particularly galling is the fact OPAP’s incumbent hand has been strengthened as the monopoly now covers not only the offline arena but also the e-gaming space as well.
 
“This is a disgrace and the Greek government should be ashamed with how this has been allowed to happen.”
 
OPAP's monopoly is also under challenge in the European Court of Justice.
 
Betfair, a major online gambling company revealed last month that it was withdrawing from Greece, whilst William Hill has also indicated that it will exit the Greek market in the wake of the government's intentions.
 
The Remote Gaming Association, a trade body that represents many of Europe's top online gambling firms, commented:
 
“There can be no justification for extending OPAP’s monopoly to cover nearly every aspect of online gambling. We have urged the Greek government to reconsider and have called on the European Commission to take action if it does not, because this move is a blatant breach of EU process and EU law.”