The Champions League Final is happening this week, and World Cup football action is starting to heat up too, but sports fans might soon face problems when trying to bet on sports in Greece. The country’s sports betting industry is dominated by a group called OPAP, which operates a government-sanctioned monopoly over all bookmaking operations in Greece. OPAP’s sales agents, upset with a new tax regime which was recently put into place, intends to show their displeasure by striking during some of the biggest football matches of the year.
The strike will begin with a 24-hour hiatus on the day of the Champions League Final on Saturday, May 22. Other strikes are also planned, including 48-hour strikes during the World Cup in South Africa on June 11 and July 11. While the strike will inevitably lead to the loss of several million in revenue for OPAP, reported to be Europe’s largest gambling firm, OPAP’s agents have a mission, and they intend to see it through.
The source of the problem is a new gambling tax regime in Greece, which was put into place in an attempt to help lessen Greece’s financial woes. OPAP’s agents will now be taxed on their profits instead of paying a flat rate on their revenues. The agents are protesting this change, and are also demanding increased fees and higher player payouts to help offset competition from unlicensed gambling websites in Greece.
Fortunately for punters, OPAP is not the only option for betting on European football. While the group is the only sports betting firm to hold a local license, there are quite a few internet bookmakers that operate from other countries, and which offer internet betting in Greece. These online sportsbooks will continue to operate throughout the strikes. Interestingly, the millions in revenue lost by OPAP will go to these unlicensed sportsbooks they are struggling to compete against, raising some questions about the efficacy of this planned strike.