The situation regarding the Greek government’s attitude to its own state gambling monopoly and its alleged lack of observance of European Union gambling laws has caused friction in the online gambling industry in Europe for some time now. Since the Greek Gambling Act of 2011 was passed there have been no full online gambling licences issued and the government has plans to give the partly state owned OPAP, which has the land based gambling monopoly in the country, the monopoly over online gambling as well. Even those operators from outside Greece holding a European gaming licence from a reputable authority will be prevented from offering their services unless they apply for a Greek online gambling licence. This practice is being looked on as protectionism and was the subject of a complaint earlier this year at European Union level from the Remote Gambling Association and the European Gaming and Betting Association.
Given the current economic situation in Greece, the government is looking for ways to meet its debts and the possibility of selling off the part state controlled OPAP is one way to do this. However the authorities need to make OPAP an attractive option and so the government has decided to grant it the monopoly over online sports betting until 2020 and over online casino gambling until 2030. This situation led to major opposition from countries such as Malta which issue gaming licences and also from the Remote Gambling Association among others. In response to these concerns the European Commission had put in place a stay of one month but just recently it lifted this stay so the way is now clear for the Greek authorities to grant the online gambling monopoly to OPAP.
If this goes ahead other operators in Greece will only be able to offer online poker and online casinos with live dealers.The irony of the situation is that even though the European Commission has lifted the stay on the granting of the online monopoly to OPAP, now that the Greek government may go ahead with its plan, the European Commission could take action against this monopoly as it is alleged to breach European legislation.