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OPAP Privatization Faces Court Challenge

OPAPWith its sale of a stake in the state gambling monopoly OPAP to a Greek-Czech consortium unraveling over bickering over some of the details, the Greek government is now facing another challenge from the Remote Gambling Association (RGA) which said it will sue over the deal that grants exclusive rights to run the agency.
The RGA requested an injunction be issued against the government’s decision to approve the privatization of 33 percent of the betting company.
In the 100-page suit, the RGA argues against the decision on 12 grounds, but chiefly that the State Audit Council approved the OPAP sale without waiting for a European Commission ruling on whether the ceding of the exclusive right for online betting constitutes state aid.
Officials at the government’s privatizations agency (TAIPED) said the court action is not likely to prevent the signing of the contract sale, citing recent legislation that deprives third parties of the right to file injunctions against positive decisions by the State Audit Council. OPAP holds the exclusive rights to online betting in Greece to 2020.
Earlier this month, only days after the sale of the lottery operating rights to Hellenic Lotteries was signed, Emma Delta, the Greek-Czech consortium selected to buy 33 percent of OPAP, is reported to have threatened to back out if the commissions designated to Hellenic Lotteries’ suppliers and minority shareholders are not reduced by 50 percent.
The remuneration of Hellenic Lotteries’ suppliers and shareholders, Intralot and Scientific Games, which both bought a 16.5 percent share for 31 million euros each, has been set at 3.3 percent of the company’s annual revenues – projected at more than 300 million euros at current prices over the 12 years of the license.
The development comes despite Emma Delta officials having recently told the Financial Times that whatever happens with the privatization of the state lottery, the company will agree to the acquisition of 33 percent of OPAP as agreed with the Greek government.
According to the contract signed with Hellenic Lotteries, Intralot will provide technical support and Scientific Games will undertake the printing of the scratch lottery (Xysto).

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