OPAP reform and technological upgrade remain fictional

The case regarding the technological upgrade of betting firm OPAP seems to be proving another bitter defeat for the government, with talk of OPAP’s independence from its technology supplier Intralot having eventually led to thousands of lost manpower hours and useless spending of some millions of euros, in addition to procedures entirely unrelated to the firm’s mission. The partly state-controlled firm may have suffered certain losses as well, given that previous reform plans have been scrapped on the back of expectations for a new technology supplier. For instance, only half of OPAP agencies can currently support the operation for the high- demand KINO game, as it requires highly advanced terminals. OPAP officials say that only three-fifths of the firm’s agencies are at present equipped with the advanced IT system terminals required for the specific game. Critical decisions on OPAP’s IT upgrade and reform, despite the firm’s pledges on corporate governance, are forwarded to the office of Minister for Sports Giorgos Orfanos, instead of to the office of Finance Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis who has prime responsibility for such decisions, since the state is the main shareholder. It seems that the appointed administrations have been, as a rule, observing the political directions dictated by «supervising» ministers, paying little attention, if any at all, to such criteria as business effectiveness. But this seems to be causing no worries for OPAP managers, considering that OPAP is still a monopolistic betting firm, and given Greeks’ increasing betting habits, profitability is almost guaranteed. Things will change indeed when OPAP’s monopoly is, sooner or later, dissolved. The administration though seems to have to reason to be concerned, as it is believed that there is plenty of time for any move to be readjusted.

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