OPAP monopoly again under the microscope

The British gambling group Stanleybet has revealed that it is legally challenging the closure of its two Greek outlets last year (see previous InfoPowa reports) by Greek officials acting on a complaint from the OPAP Greek gambling monopoly.

"We are determined to defend the creation of a regulated, fair and competitive sports betting market in Greece," Stanleybet International communications director Constantinos Maragakis told Agence France Presse in a company statement.

Stanleybet's outlets in Athens and the northern city of Thessaloniki were shut down in November barely a week after opening, apparently on allegations of illegal gambling, with police officers confiscating equipment, coupons and cash and the arrest of store operators and three customers who were all released the following day.

AFP reports that OPAP has had control over betting in Greece since 1996 and is one of the country's few profitable public companies.

But Stanleybet, which has more than 1,400 outlets in Belgium, Croatia, Romania and Poland, said it has a "legal right" to operate in Greece under EU law and prior European Court of Justice precedents.

OPAP has remained adamant that: "The company will defend the rights (arising) from its contract with the Greek state in every legal manner."

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