ATHENS, April 25 (Reuters) - Greece’s biggest betting company OPAP, will pay an extra 70 million to 75 million euros ($79-$84 million) in tax this year under new laws on gross gaming revenues, Chief Executive Kamil Ziegler said on Monday.
The former state monopoly, majority owned and managed by a Greek-Czech fund since 2013, paid more than 600 million euros in taxes last year.
Greece introduced a 5 euro cent levy on OPAP’s wagers at the start of the year, eyeing its 210 million euros annual revenue as part of several measures agreed with its lenders under an international bailout signed last summer.
Last week, the country unveiled a tax bill that scrapped that levy, but it raised taxation on the company’s gross gaming revenue by 5 percentage points to 35 percent.
Addressing a shareholders meeting on Monday, Ziegler said the company had no choice but to pay it.
“If there is a law saying the GGR (gross gaming revenue tax) will be 35 percent, it’s not a question of accepting or not accepting it. This is the law,” Ziegler said.
“Of course, this 35 percent is by far the largest GGR tax in Europe,” he said. OPAP was already considering how to minimise the impact on the company, he said, without elaborating.
Greece increased its corporate tax last year to 29 percent from 26 percent. It also plans to increase tax on dividends to 15 from 10 percent this year as part of fiscal measures to meet its bailout targets.
Athens also expected to raise another 100 million euros from taxing a video lottery business OPAP had planned to launch last summer. OPAP put the project on hold after Greece issued stricter regulation for the games.
Ziegler called on the Greek government to change the regulation as both the company and the state were losing hundreds of millions of euros a year from illegal providers of video lottery games.
OPAP last year took the case to an international arbitration court, looking for compensation of more than 1 billion euros from Greece. ($1 = 0.8872 euros) (Reporting by Angeliki Koutantou; editing by Susan Thomas)
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