Instant scratch lottery is back

Faced with a whopping public deficit and a dwindling number of public corporations to sell, the government said yesterday it was reviving a lottery to tap into gambling, a national obsession that promises a seemingly endless cash flow. The Finance Ministry confirmed plans to bring back Xysto, a wildly popular instant lottery suspended in 2003 when a tender to renew its contract award stalled. The operation of the Xysto scratch card under a revamped state lottery operator is calculated to bring in an extra 95 million euros ($113.5 million) a year, a ministry source told AFP. In addition, the government recently began a procedure to sell up to 16.44 percent of the organization of football pools (OPAP), one of Greece’s few profitable state-run companies. Last month, OPAP said it would spice up its menu by adding politics, finance and arts wagers to an already popular betting game, Pame Stoichima. As an added incentive, Pame Stoichima will also feature Greek league action for the first time. Greeks last year reportedly poured over 5.8 billion euros into gambling overall, including money spent on football bets, in casinos and at the racetrack. Greece’s public deficit exceeds 6 percent of gross domestic product, in violation of European Union rules. (AFP)

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