The European Commission has ruled that the Greek agency responsible for gambling, OPAP, a state monopoly, can keep that position until 2030 – but the decision came after the government said it would sell its interest as part of a privatization drive demanded by international lenders.
The Commission decided that the exclusive rights OPAP enjoys are not state aid and ruled that the agency, which has no competition, can also keep it’s 35,000 VLT (Video Lottery Terminals) until 2022. The Commission pointed out that as OPAP will pay a fee for these rights that means it’s not unfair state aid.
Commission Vice-President in Charge of Competition Policy Joaquín Almunia said: “Greece has cooperated fully with the Commission to ensure that OPAP will not benefit from any undue financial advantage through the prolongation of its exclusive rights and its license for video lottery terminals. The Commission has therefore approved these measures under EU state aid rules. This allows for a timely privatization of the gambling operator.”
On the basis of the accordance to state aid rules, OPAP will pay an additional 5% of the gross revenues of VLT’s depending on the size of the revenues. The government has already started the international competition to sell 33% of OPAP. Last year, OPAP was one of the most profitable companies in Greece.
(Sources: European Commission, Ethnos.gr)