The European Commission has again denied Greece’s request to address its new gaming bill with emergency proceedings. Nothing will happen until at least July 6.
At home, confusion has replaced the positive attitude that accompanied the initial announcements of coming reform.
Measures in the current bill would raise €700 million by awarding as many as 50 online gambling licenses and 10 licenses to operate a total of 30,000 new VLTs. However, the government lately has been hinting at a far different future.
According to GamblingCompliance, Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou recently indicated that Greece’s monopoly lottery operator, OPAP, would receive some “exclusivity” over new VLT and online gaming. The implication is that Greece would go back to an earlier plan, which gave OPAP—of which the government owns 34 percent—control of all or most of the new licenses. OPAP would then offer the licenses to bidders, at some unspecified future date.
The government has said in the past that it would sell its stake in OPAP for €23 billion in 2012. Papaconstantinou reaffirmed that intention, although perhaps the full 34 percent stake would not be let go.
And there are other conditions. According to Reuters, an unnamed senior government official said, “OPAP will be privatized in full in 2012 after a series of interventions, such as extension of licenses.”
Another complication to the government selling its stake is what to do about the tourism and culture ministry, which receives a generous portion of its revenue from OPAP.