Greece sets scene for the next EU online gambling battleground

Greek authorities have reportedly arrested nine people for ‘illegally’ betting with an unnamed British bookmaker. Police arrested the owners of three internet cafes, which had installed gaming software offering foreign-based online betting on games, as well as customers.

OPAP’s president, Sotiris Kostakos, responded to the news by telling reporters: “The only company with the right to operate betting in Greece is OPAP.

“Some people are getting rich unlawfully while the Greek state hemorrhages.”

According to OPAP, the illegal betting market in Greece is equal in value to the state-monopoly, or roughly Euro 1.4 billion.

Meanwhile, British-licensed online gambling firm, William Hill, recently applied for a license in Greece to open betting shops in that country, which would place it in direct competition with OPAP, and did so knowing full well that Greece was likely to deny it.

As a member of the European Union, Greece is subject to the requirements of the union’s free passage for trade and services from other EU states policy.

William Hill’s chief executive, David Harding, is quoted as saying he believed that Greece was in violation of European law, and that if the application was rejected, William Hill would persue the matter through the European Court.

This could set the scene for the next EU online gambling battleground.

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