Karas takes over as interim OPAP chief executive

21 May 2020

Greek gambling operator OPAP has appointed chief commercial officer Jan Karas as acting chief executive while it seeks a permanent replacement for the outgoing Damien Cope.

Effective from 1 June, Karas will assume all of Cope’s responsibilities, with the exception of human resources duties, which will be handled by deputy CEO Odysseas Christoforou. When Cope announced his departure early in April, the operator said Karas would take temporary charge if a successor was not identified by the end of May.

Karas was only appointed as CCO in January this year, after spells as OPAP’s chief operations officer retail and chief sales officer.

Prior to this, he worked for telecommunications giant Telefónica, as vice president of O2 shops in Germany and also held a number of senior roles at Telefónica O2 Czech Republic, including director of retail.

“Jan is assuming responsibilities of the CEO and I am looking forward to working with him,” OPAP’s executive chairman Kamil Ziegler said. “I am convinced that we will achieve our strategic goals and address the challenges arising after the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, leveraging the opportunities to deliver value to our shareholders and stakeholders.”

The appointment comes after OPAP last month announced that it had begun the process of identifying a successor to Cope, who is to step down as CEO when his four-year contract concludes at the end of May.

Cope, who was appointed in May 2016, will shift to advising the OPAP board, as well as working with majority shareholder Sazka Group as it pursues new international development opportunities.

“Personally, and on behalf of OPAP’s board of directors, I would like to thank Damien for his significant contribution to OPAP’s progress and results and wish him all the best for the future,” Ziegler said.

Last week, OPAP announced that it was to reopen its network of retail stores across Greece after the national government lifted certain restrictive measures related to the coronavirus.

OPAP’s 3,750 stores will begin to reopen from 11 May, while street vendors have restarted the sale of Hellenic Lotteries products. OPAP stores and Play-branded gaming halls in Greece, plus its Cyprus-based stores, have been closed since 14 March.