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Greece continues the push against online gambling

Tonight the arrests of three owners of Internet cafes in Greece were officially confirmed by the authorities. According to the police, the owners of the places were installing online betting software of an unmentioned British sportsbook website, and then allowing people to place bets through the computers.

Greek Betting GameGambling in Greece (mainly sports betting and lottery) is a monopoly of the OPAP  (Greek Organization of Football Prognostics; ASE:OPAP) - a publicly traded company, major share holder of which is the Greek government. OPAP revenue in the fiscal 2006 was over 4.5 billion Euro (over $6.1 billion) with gross profit of over 850 million Euros ($1.1 billion) for the same year. From sports betting alone the revenue for 2006 was close to 2.4 billion Euros ($3.2 billion), which is 54.7% increase from 2005.

All this makes Greece a very lucrative market for online betting companies from the U.K., and the bookmaker William Hill applied for a license on the 13th of April, aiming to break the monopoly of the OPAP in Greece.

Many experts agree that William Hill's application will most likely be rejected, as the recent events show that Greece is not ready to let anyone else in the gambling market, not less an online bookmaker from another country. As online gambling is becoming more and more popular in Greece, it is expected that more arrests will follow in the country, as the government will try to show its citizens that gambling anywhere else besides through OPAP will not be tolerated.

William Hill have also confirmed that in the event of application rejection by the Greek Gaming Board, they will seek the help of the E.U. courts to enter this very promising sports betting market in the Union.

We think, however, that in the case with Greece, the E.U. courts are most likely to vote in favor of the Mediterranean country, at least for the time being.


Related news:

 WTO panel rules against US online gambling restrictions
 E.U. court rules against Italian gambling laws




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