A Greek court has ruled that the country’s OPAP betting monopoly is legal, rejecting a decade-long battle by foreign rivals William Hill, Sportingbet and Stanleybet to force open the market to competition.
OPAP, one of Europe’s biggest betting operators, will retain the exclusive right to offer lotteries in debt-laden Greece until 2030 and sports betting until 2020, after the court, the Council of State, found that reforms the government has implemented since 2011 ensure the monopoly conforms to exemptions to E.U. free-trade guarantees.
OPAP, with a market value of €3.4 billion, has about 5,000 outlets in Greece and Cyprus. It has recently launched scratch-card gambling and is about to launch a new video lottery business.
The government sold a 33 percent stake in the group last year as part of a privatization of public assets required by a €240 billion bailout by the European Union and the International Monetary Fund.