According to current Greek gambling laws, all lottery and sports betting must be managed by OPAP (the Greek Organization of Football Prognostics, the government owned monopoly). With no greater effect than pleasing ears on the European Commission (EC), the Greek government has discussed privatizing OPAP for the past several years.
Finally, however, pressured by the feeble economy, the Greek government will privatize OPAP as soon as possible to generate necessary funds for the depleted national treasury. The Greek government has disclosed a 3-year privatization plan expected to generate €7 billion by selling government owned companies such as OPAP. According to a finance ministry spokesperson, the government hopes to collect the first billion euros, or more, during 2011.
In addition to selling OPAP, the Greek government is seeking private investment in another organization for betting on sports in Greece, ODIE (the Horse Racing Organization of Greece, which operates the state racetrack and two state lotteries).
Numerous non-gambling organizations have also been slated for privatization including state defence contractor EAS (Hellenic Defence Systems), gas operators DEPA (the Public Gas Corporation of Greece) and DESFA (the Hellenic Gas Transmission Systems Operator S.A.), and the Athens International Airport.
All this liquidation is required because the country nearly went bankrupt earlier this year. While the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and European Union (EU) provided bailouts to relieve the situation, the Greek government was forced to implement austerity measures and revise asset management policies.
The tiny country’s ongoing financial woes may also finally force the nation to revisit the issue of online gambling in Greece. Internet gambling in Greece remains illegal, but the European Union has been applying pressure to liberate the market.