OPAP, Hellenic Football Prognostics Organization has been dominating the Greek gambling news for quite a while.
Yesterday in Luxembourg, an adviser to Europe’s highest court stated that the Greek state-controlled agency OPAP should not have a monopoly. His main reason was that company had misused its protected position to expand. In his opinion, the expansion of OPAP was also helped by the general European policies that limit gambling.
William Hill, Britain’s biggest bookmaker, along SportingBet and Stanleybet, both sizeable online gaming companies, brought the case to the The European Court of Justice. The firms first complained to the Greek courts about not gaining a license for internet betting in Greece.
The Greek judges not knowing how to apply the European regulations, turned for advice to the Luxembourg-based court.
The Luxembourg court consulted industry expert and court adviser Advocate General Jan Mazak.
Mazak clearly laid out his arguments against the Greek monopoly in the legal document: “OPAP seems to pursue an expansionist commercial policy … Those circumstances … are in my view manifestly inconsistent with the purported objective of reducing the betting and gaming opportunities in Greece.”
He went on complaining about the Greek state-run agency saying: “In my view … the activities of OPAP are neither subject to strict control by the public authorities nor effectively limited by the legislative framework applicable to it.”
European Court of Justice usually follows the adviser’s opinion in most cases, however, Mazak’s advice is not binding on the judges. They court is expected to make a decision in a few months.
The European Commission has stated several times that the EU policies on online gambling, as well as the specific policies of Greece, Germany, France, Italy and Sweden in particular are against EU rules of free movement of services.
The Greek government has recently decided to privatize OPAP a few weeks ago.