Greek lottery and betting provider OPAP has had it’s online sports betting licence revoked, which could speed-up the suggested changes of the country’s internet licensing.
On Thursday, Greek press revealed that OPAP’s online sports betting license had been invalidated by the Council of State, the largest administrative court in the country. The judgement, allegedly taken in July but only now coming to light, will have no impact on the retail betting activities of OPAP.
Austrian airline Goalbet (GLB GmbH) challenged the legality of the internet banking license given by OPAP, as they took exception to the reality that OPAP — at the moment a state-owned organisation — never had to suffer the same licensing process as the 24 carriers (including Goalbet) awarded ‘ provisional ‘ permits in 2011. Those 24 permits were withdrawn the subsequent year, while the Hellenic Gaming Commission expanded the monopoly of OPAP.
Indeed, the decision implies that the internet activities of OPAP have been illegal for most of this century. This opens up the chance that the 24 providers who obeyed the laws could lodge economic compensation allegations, a very significant situation given that the Greek government is proposing millions of back charges from some of these former licensees if they want to operate in the fresh controlled internet industry in Greece.
For years now, Greek officials have been tweaking with their internet casino industry reforms, and the recent date for applying these initiatives–which many potential licensees have not discovered among many supporters–is sometime next year. The advent of a fresh govt this summer may ultimately place some urgency behind these attempts.
OPAP officially introduced its internet sports betting brand Pame Stoixima in 2014 and upgraded last November’s digital offering. But the item never really caught up with Greek punters, at least not compared to the globally registered rivals of OPAP, or even to OPAP’s own self-service lottery terminals (SSBTs).
OPAP delivered its H1 financial report card last week, showing revenue rising 5.7 percent year-on-year to € 779.6 million in the six months ending 30th June, while earnings improved 26.2 percent to € 198.7 million and net profit jumped 39 percent to € 91.8 million due to a few one-off products and significant IT-related cost cuts.
Lottery revenue increased by 2.1% to € 379.3 million partly due to the launch of OPAP’s first online lottery product (Tzoker / Joker), while the Instant & Passives segment fell by 7.6% to € 68.5 million. The ongoing roll-out of OPAP’s video lottery terminals (VLTs) saw revenue increase by a massive 56.5 percent to € 139.9 m for this segment.
Online betting was said to be ‘ flat, ‘ but the SSBTs now account for 18.5 percent of turnover and OPAP intends to check the release of its KINO item on the computers, over 6,500 of which are now implemented throughout Greece and Cyprus.