Greek court revokes OPAP online sports betting licence

23 September 2019

The Greek Council of State, the country’s supreme administrative court, has revoked the online sports betting license of  OPAP.

The court upheld Austrian operator Goalbet’s appeal of the Hellenic Gaming Commission’s (EEEP) decision that allowed OPAP to launch Pame Stoixima, its online sports betting brand.

The decision was made in July, but has only come to light after reports in the Greek media during the past week.

In May of 2014, the EEEP allowed OPAP to launch online sports betting. However, Goalbet — one of 24 operators granted a temporary license in 2011 that was later revoked — argued that OPAP had never been asked to meet the conditions necessary for a Greek online sports betting license, and their license was therefore void.

The court ruled that if OPAP wishes to re-enter the online sports betting market, it must start again following the country’s licensing conditions.

The loss of the licence, whether temporary or permanent, is not expected to have a major impact on the operator's sports betting revenue, which remains dominated by OPAP's retail offering. For the six months to 30 June 2019, sports betting revenue was down 5.2% at €191.9m, with Pame Stoixima's contribution flat year-on-year.

An OPAP spokesperson emphasised that the decision affected only a very small part of the company's revenue.

"This Council of State decision refers to OPAP’s online sports betting offering, and does not affect any land-based and retail offering of OPAP’s [sports betting and lottery] games, nor its online lottery games offering," the spokesperson said. "The contribution of online sports betting for OPAP is very low, standing at low to mid-single digit million euros of GGR as an absolute amount or less than 1% of total OPAP’s GGR."

The spokesperson added that the operator's main online business was run through Stoiximan, the igaming business in which OPAP holds a majority stake.

The ruling means that the operators who had their licenses revoked, including Goalbet, may be entitled to financial compensation.

A series of online gambling reforms are set to be introduced in Greece in 2020. The reforms include proposals to separate online game of chance licences into two categories: a permit for betting games, namely sports and non-sports bets, and a licence for other online games. Operators can apply for both types of licence, with the EEEP not limited as to how many permits it can award.