Athens-listed gambling group OPAP SA is facing disruption in its home market of Greece following the decision taken by the State Council to revoke the operator’s online sports betting licence.
Judges of Greece’s highest-ranking administrative court upheld an appeal made by Austrian operator Goalbet, who challenged the Hellenic Gaming Commission’s (EEEP) licensing approval of OPAP online sportsbook subsidiary Pame Stoixima.
The dispute relates to the launch of Pame Stoixima in 2014, with Goalbet challenging EEEP’s approval of OPAP’s online betting licence as Greek sportsbook incumbents were forced to operate under ‘temporary license’ provisions sanctioned during 2011.
In its challenge, Goalbet stated that Pame Stoixima had been granted favourable conditions by the EEEP, allowing it to bypass licensing criteria as the online sportsbook formed part of OPAP during its tenure as a state-owned monopoly.
During the course of 2013-to-2014, the Greek government would begin its divestment of OPAP as a state asset, selling shares to private institutions, which Goalbet states should have led EEEP to rescind Pame Stoixima’s privilege as a monopoly subsidiary.
Furthermore, in 2013 the EEEP had suspended the ‘temporary licences’ of 24 online betting incumbents to rectify the passage of the 2011 Greek Gambling Act, prohibiting online sports betting services and RNG games.
Reacting to the judgement, OPAP governance issued the following statement: “This Council of State decision refers to OPAP’s online sports betting offering, and does not affect any land-based and retail offering of OPAP’s [sports betting and lottery] games, nor its online lottery games offering.
“The contribution of online sports betting for OPAP is very low, standing at low to mid-single-digit million euros of GGR as an absolute amount or less than 1% of total OPAP’s GGR.”
Greek media reports that the State Council’s ruling may lead to Goalbet demanding compensation from the EEEP.
In 2019, the EEEP submitted its reformed proposals for regulating online gambling to the European Commission, seeking to establish a two-tiered framework for regulating online gambling services for sports betting and casino games.