Greek Online Gambling Giant OPAP to be Privatized to Repay EU Loans

OPAP and Greek government are on the brink of much needed licensing deal ahead of the deadline, set by Greek bailout creditors

Greek gambling laws - GamingZion

Online gambling news in Greece learned that the country’s gambling monopoly OPAP is closing in on a preliminary agreement on a licensing deal with the Greek government. The upcoming deal, expected to be signed by the end of September, is a cornerstone for Greece in an effort to reach the state revenue deadline, set by lenders.

Greece must come up with EUR1.7 billion in loan re-payments by the end of the month in order to comply with the terms set by EU/IMF bailout. The majority of the fund is to come from new gambling licenses awarded to OPAP as prescribed by the new Greek gambling laws. The Greek government is also expected to extend OPAP’s sports betting monopoly beyond the year 2020.

OPAP and the Greek government are expected to sign a memorandum of understanding by the end of September and the final licensing details are to be stipulated in the full contract later on. CEO of OPAP, Yannis Spanoudakis, commented: “It will be a document that guarantees the outcome of the negotiations.”

Greece currently holds a 34 percent stake in OPAP and is expected to raise between EUR750 and EUR925 million from the deal. OPAP, one of the biggest providers of online casinos in Greece and Europe as a whole, will have to turn to financial markets or banks in order to raise that much cash.

However the Greek government may not receive the money, and thus miss the set deadline, because OPAP still needs to receive approval of the deal from its shareholders. The general meeting of shareholders has already been called upon, and Spanoudakis had the following comments: “That’s the main delay for us, everything else is just a question of bureaucracy.”

Greek government has plans to sell its remaining stake in OPAP by the end of 2011.

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