Greek Online Gaming Monopoly Questioned by European Commission

15 April 2014

Operators who want to buy casino games and open online gambling sites in Greece could soon be allowed to do such business legally, since the European Commission has already started raising concerns regarding the former state-controlled gambling monopoly OPAP. One third of OPAP has been sold in May 2013 to the Emma Delta Consortium for EUR 652 million, in an effort for Greece to cover a part of the multi-billion international bailout plan.

The European Court of Justice has declared that the gambling monopoly in Greece is not legal, according to European Union principles. Thus, operators who want to buy casino games for online casinos have already demanded that the European Commission should take action on this issue. Operators have already been disappointed by the fact that the Greek government issued gambling licenses for 24 gaming companies in 2011, but revoked them a year later. When the licenses were revoked, the government decided to only allow state owned gambling monopoly OPAP to offer gambling games until 2020. 

At this point in time, former OPAP has been declared illegal, and the European Court of Justice is waiting for the submission of a new gambling law plan by the Greek Government. The European Commission has already requested details which include documentary evidence regarding how much OPAP paid for the gaming monopoly rights it received.

Despite the fact that the new decision taken by the European Commission would advantage operators who want to buy casino games, this problem could influence Greece in a negative manner. The European country is currently in much need of the EUR 240 billion financial bailout offered by the European Union in 2010, and the extension of gambling monopoly OPAP until 2020 helped Greece receive the much needed EUR 652 million from Emma Delta consortium.

Furthermore, the Emma Delta consortium is currently being sued by several anonymous members of the Remote Gaming Association, who claim that their applications for gambling licenses have been dismissed due to the sale of OPAP to Emma Delta.

If the Greek gambling monopoly remains in force, operators who want to buy casino games for Greek online casinos would probably not have the opportunity to do so until 2020. Even so, the objections of the European Commission could force Greek gambling laws to change in the near future.

15 April 2014

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