Sale of Greek Lottery Hits Snag As Lottomatica Exits Deal

Published Friday, December 14, 2012 -

Greece has been trying to keep its monopolistic gambling organization intact but has financial obligations to fulfill. The Hellenic Republic Assets Development Fund which is the privatization agency for the Greek government estimated the value of the state-owned Hellenic Lotteries to be €1.5b over the 12-year contract.

Greek firms OPAP and Intralot, Italy’s Lottomatica and America’s Scientific Games formed a consortium to purchase the Hellenic Lotteries. The original bid made for the concession was rejected by the agency as too low throwing the whole process into disarray. Now not long after the second bid was accepted another glitch has found its way into the purchase. Italy’s Lottomatica has decided to exit the deal which it considers to be too expensive. It will leave the consortium and transfer its one third share to the Greek Organisation of Football Prognostics known as OPAP. Lottomatica will retain just one lone share to keep in the game.

The struggling Greek economy has prompted the government to try to expand OPAP’s scope to include online gambling. Its efforts to gain even more control over the already controversial monopoly have caused online operators to lodge complaints with the European Commission.

The government of Greece gains thirty percent of the lottery’s gross revenues exempting the New Year special lottery with guaranteed revenue of €580m over the duration of the contract. Also unclaimed winnings estimated at €170m would also be awarded the government. European gaming associations such as the European Gaming and Betting Association and the Remote Gambling Association have both placed formal complaints with the European Commission saying the Greek government is contravening the European Union rules governing the free trade of e-commerce. Greece has set the bar when it comes to changing gambling regulations to suit their own needs. Germany and Belgium have also created unfavourable legislation that doesn’t comply with E.U. rules for e-commerce equality.

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