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Greeks Looking to Online Gambling to Help Solve Debt Woes

1 August 2011 by admin

It has been in international headlines the last couple of months that Greece is working a ways to solve the issues with its national debt. Currently they have obligations to the European Union and to the International Monetary Fund. While online gambling and online casinos will not entirely solve the Greek national debt issue, it can make a significant difference.

Currently the Greek government has a 34% stake in OPAP, the state run gambling monopoly. Under an agreement with the European Commission in the Greek proposal to help generate some revenue, the Greek government was supposed to sell their stake in OPAP. They are moving ahead with this, but they may not sell all of their stake, according to the Greek finance minister, Evangelos Venizelos, in order to maintain management control. The reason for this, as given by Venizelos, is that, “OPAP’s value is not only its shares but also the value of exercising its management.” Maintaining management will allow the Greek government to collect revenue from OPAP operations and licenses.

If the Greek government did sell their stake in OPAP it would generate at least a minimum of €1.2 billion ($1.73 billion). The hope is that the sale would be to a strategic investor so that some degree of management could still be maintained since another €500 million ($719 million) in selling more online gambling and online casino licenses. Other options to bring in revenue from online gambling and online casinos is to extend OPAP’s license from the Greek government itself, which would add another €400 million ($575 million) towards Greece’s financial obligations to the European Union and International Monetary Fund for helping the country cover its national debt. Although amount of revenue has not been estimated yet, another option would be to give OPAP an exclusive license; this license would be to operate all of the video lottery machines in the country, which number at 35,000.

Those are only a handful of the options that the Greek government has. But it is their intention to raise €5 billion ($7.2 billion) by the end of the year. While the plan is on shaky ground with the EC, Greece intends to move forward with it, citing that it is a good plan for them to raise their end of the money agreed upon. Venizelos said, “We have a clear target to present €1.7 billion ($2.4 billion) from privatizations by the end of September and €5 billion ($7.2 billion) by the end of the year.” And all of this from online gambling and online casinos.

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