New two-day strike for OPAP a costly affair

OPAP agents said yesterday they would launch a two-day strike on Friday to protest the government’s tax policies. OPAP, 34 percent-owned by the state, has a monopoly on sports betting and lotteries in Greece until 2020. Only its 5,300 agents can sell the company’s products. Under a new tax regime, decided in May as part of Greece’s efforts to plug its fiscal gap, OPAP agents now have to keep books, meaning they are taxed on their profits instead of a flat rate on their revenues. Brokers said that the two-day strike is likely to reduce OPAP’s revenue by about 40 million euros and profit losses could reach as much as 4 million euros. The union also wants guarantees for the agents’ exclusive right to sell OPAP games to the public amid fears Greece plans to open up the gaming market. The agents have been holding strikes since May, hitting OPAP sales that are already feeling the impact of recession in austerity-hit Greece. OPAP shares fell 0.7 percent to 12.85 euros on the Athens bourse yesterday, versus a 1.63 percent decline on the broader market.