(Makes clear Greece not selling entire OPAP stake in last
BRUSSELS Jan 24 Europe's highest court said on
Thursday that OPAP's current gambling monopoly in the
Greek market was illegal, unless the authorities in Greece set
strict conditions to protect consumers.
The European Court of Justice ruled against the monopoly in
a challenge by rivals William Hill, SportingBet
EU law did not allow for national legislation granting the
exclusive gambling rights to a single company, unless the
authorities were genuinely reducing access to gambling and
controlling expansion of the sector to combat criminality, the
court said in a statement.
Judges at the Luxembourg-based court had in previous cases
found problems with gambling monopolies in Italy, Germany and
The judges gave Greece two options.
They said that if market liberalisation would not allow for
the level of consumer protection it wanted, the Greek government
could undertake "reforms of the monopoly and make it subject to
effective and strict controls by the public authorities".
But if Greece chose to liberalise the gambling market -
which is not compulsory under EU law - it would have to be
transparent and treat local and foreign operators equally.
Athens is selling 33 percent of OPAP, almost its entire
stake, as part of a privatisation drive agreed with its
(Reporting by Foo Yun Chee; Editing by Rex Merrifield)