Brussels to investigate OPAP’s Intralot tender

Charlie McCreevy, the European commissioner in charge of the internal market and services, said yesterday he would probe the legality of the tender for the procurement of equipment by Greece’s gaming monopoly OPAP last year. «The Commission is not informed on the issue… and is not in a position to comment on the reasons that led to the alleged direct assignment of the procurement or the size of the contract. Nevertheless, the Commission intends to conduct a probe on the issue,» McCreevy said in a written reply to a question by Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) Euro-MP Dimitris Papadimoulis. McCreevy said he would ask the Greek authorities for «all useful information on the issue.» When questioned, OPAP officials said it was likely that the issue was indirectly intended to challenge the state-controlled company’s monopoly status in the Greek market. They argued that if the Greek government replied to the Commission that OPAP is a societe anonyme operating under private company law, it must provide Brussels with an argument against the operator’s monopoly in games of chance. By contrast, if the government were to say that OPAP is a state enterprise, that would allow the Commission to examine the legality of the assignment of the company’s technological modernization to its longtime gaming software supplier Intralot. In July 2007, when the assignment was made, OPAP was legally neither a private company nor a public enterprise. Its charter was amended to that of a societe anonyme in November 2007.