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OPAP Revises Taxes On Winnings

OPAPSearching frantically for cash everywhere, Greece has allowed its gambling agency OPAP – which is set to be sold to private interests – to create a tax-free threshold for small winnings, hoping to increase revenues without driving away customers, although larger winners will see taxes doubled.
According to a legislative amendment to be submitted to Parliament soon, OPAP players΄ winnings will be taxed progressively, the finance ministry said. According to Reuters, the move scraps a 10-percent flat rate on all winnings which was announced in September as part of government efforts to plug its budget deficit.
Winnings between 100-500 euros ($136-$680) will be taxed at 15 percent and those above at 20 percent, the finance ministry said. Winnings below 100 euros will go entirely tax free. Analysts had criticized the flat-rate taxation, arguing it would discourage small-time betters and hurt company sales and tax receipts.
The state owns 34 percent of OPAP, which is one of Europe΄s biggest gambling companies and the biggest prize in the debt-laden country΄s privatization program. It is worth 2 billion euros ($2.72 billion) on the Athens Stock Exchange, making it Greece΄s third-biggest company by market value.
OPAP, however, is dogged by regulatory uncertainty, with rivals such as William Hill and Stanleybet challenging its monopoly and taxation regime in Greek and European courts. Regulatory and taxation news frequently cause wild swings in its share price as government tax policies change without notice and happen often, even in the same tax year, making it difficult to assess a company’s value.
The government said it obtained European Union approval to scrap the flat tax rate. A 30-percent levy on OPAP gross earnings, also announced in September, is not changing.

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