ECONOMY

Odds are against OPAP sale

The Finance Ministry may put an end to plans to privatize betting company OPAP after realizing that it is worth more to the state if kept under government control, according to sources. The shift in government policy is reflected in OPAP’s share price, which is at around the 15-euro mark, much lower than a year ago, when it was trading at about 20 euros. The government’s decision to hold onto OPAP could be confirmed soon after it submits to Parliament an amendment banning illegal Internet gambling. The legal reform will forbid banks from clearing credit card transactions involving betting websites that do not have an operating license for Greece. According to sources, those caught violating the law could be slapped with a fine of up to 60,000 euros, while offenders could also face imprisonment. The advertising of games of chance without prior approval from the Economy, Competitiveness and Merchant Marine Ministry will also be banned in an amendment expected to be submitted to Parliament in the middle of February. However, the government’s decision on OPAP’s future will largely depend on the state of its finances. Sources said that if Greece’s fiscal situation further deteriorates, raising the prospect of the government not being able to pay pensions and wages for public servants, then there may be a new decision made on the future of OPAP in the next five to six months.