Greek gambling operator OPAP has run into trouble with the Hellenic Gaming Commission (HGC) due to its activities. OPAP has enjoyed a major monopoly in the Greek gambling market for a number of years. It is the major contributor to the growth of the gambling industry in Greece. However, the regulator received complaints against the operator, stating that it was taking undue advantage of its monopoly by competing unfairly against the other operators in the country. The HGC has stated that this is a clear violation of the non-compete provision in the Greek gambling regulations. As a result, the regulator has slapped OPAP with a fine amounting to €24.5 million.
OPAP SA, or the Greek Organization of Football Prognostics, is a Greek company that organizes and conducts games of chance. The company was founded in 1958 as the “Organization of Football Prognostics.” The company introduced PRO-PO before the first agencies were founded in Patra, Aigio, and Drama in 1959. During the military junta period, OPAP has grown significantly, helped by the promotion of sports by the dictatorial regime. the impressive growth of OPAP continued after the end of the dictatorship. OPAP funds contributed to the creation of hundreds of stadiums, closed gymnasiums, and other sporting sites throughout the country, while its sponsorship was no longer limited to sport but extended to culture, too. In 2001, OPAP got listed in the Athens Stock Exchange through a law, according to which the State could dispense up to 49% of the company’s share. In 2013, Emma Delta Hellenic Holding Ltd acquired 33% of OPAP and became a strategic shareholder. OPAP continues to finance projects regarding developing sports infrastructure in the country. An important change of this period was the successful disconnection of OPAP from its unique relation to sports and the beginning of servicing the cultural development of the country. The well-known motto since 1959, “OPAP: At the service of sports”, is replaced by “OPAP: At the service of sports and culture”. The number of OPAP agencies continues to increase, reaching approximately 4,000.
The Hellenic Gaming Commission (HGC) is an independent administrative authority responsible for regulating, supervising, and auditing games of chance in Greece. The commission is responsible for supervising and controlling games played in Greece, including online casino gambling. The HGC’s primary role is to ensure that gaming activities carried out on Greek territory are legally compliant and that the entities conducting them adhere to the appropriate gaming framework and rules governing responsible gaming. The HGC is responsible for granting gambling licenses in Greece, and certification is granted to producers or importers or, in exceptional cases, to those with a legal title or right to game and file an application with the HGC. The HGC is structured as an independent administrative authority.
Recently, the HGC accused OPAP of abusing its market position and violating the competition terms of Greece and the European Union. The regulator has accused OPAP of monopolizing the Greek gambling market, violating the EU competition law. It believes that the company is using its dominant position to prevent other operators from entering the market, which has led to a lack of competition and higher prices for consumers. OPAP is a major player in the Greek market, which has been growing rapidly. The Hellenic Cooperative of Professional Lotteries’ Agents (SEPPP) and other unnamed agents registered the complaints against OPAP. The operator has been fined €24.5 million for breaching elements of Greek law and the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU).
The complaints alleged that the non-compete clauses in OPAP’s 2017 Exclusivity Agency Agreement and OPAP’s activities between 2017 and 2021 breached certain elements of Greek law. Upon review, the HGC concluded that Article 2 of law 3959/2011, which governs the protection of free competition in Greece, had been violated. It also found that OPAP has infringed Article 1, which states that all companies trading in Greece must not fix purchase prices, limit investment opportunities, or unfairly apply conditions to transactions. The operator allegedly has vowed to appeal the decision as they strongly disagree with the HGC’s ruling. OPAP reportedly commented that the HGC’s decision did not adequately consider the data provided by the Bank of Greece. It also alleged that the violations for which it has been penalized have nothing to do with its games of chance services but the additional services provided by its tie-ups with smaller companies that provide auxiliary services like bill payments and mobile top-ups.
Soft2Bet acquires gambling permit in Greece
Soft2Bet, a software solutions provider, has acquired two seven-year licenses to operate in the Greek market. The licenses issued by the Greek authorities allow Soft2Bet to offer gaming platform services, betting platform services, and games to licensed B2C operators within the country. The acquisition of the licenses is a significant milestone for Soft2Bet as it expands its presence in the fast-growing Greek market. The company’s General Counsel, David Yatom, has expressed his excitement about the new license, stating that it will take Soft2Bet “to new heights”. The license will enable Soft2Bet to compete with other operators in the Greek market and offer its services to a wider audience.
This is a step forward for Soft2Bet in its European expansion as it recently also acquired a Swedish B2B license and a first-class license to operate in Romania. The company’s expansion into new markets is a testament to its commitment to providing high-quality services to its customers. With the acquisition of the Greek licenses, Soft2Bet is poised to become a major player in the Greek gambling market.
OPAP’s partner Allwyn doubles revenues with latest acquisitions
Allwyn is a multinational lottery operator with leading market positions in Austria, the Czech Republic, Greece, Cyprus, Italy, the United Kingdom, and the United States (Illinois). Allwyn has been involved with OPAP since 2013, growing the returns to Good Causes and the government by 82%. Allwyn has announced a three-year partnership with the Future Frames program, which includes a new Hollywood scholarship for talented directors at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival. Allwyn is committed to becoming the world’s first net-zero National Lottery.
The multinational lottery operator has seen substantial gains following its successful acquisition of Camelot Lottery Solutions earlier this year. This Czechia-based organization started 2023 on a strong note, reporting an 80 percent year-on-year (YoY) increase in first-quarter revenues. As one of the world’s most esteemed lottery operators, Allwyn has consistently enhanced its services, bolstering its global reputation. The financial results for Q2 and the first half of 2023 have been notably impressive, featuring substantial growth in revenue, adjusted EBITDA, and free cash flow generation. In the second quarter of this year, the company’s total revenue more than doubled compared to the previous year, reaching a historic milestone of €2 billion in just three months.
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