NEWS

OPAP agents abet illegal bets

A network of illicit betting agents is making huge profits from World Cup soccer fever by using state betting agency (OPAP) offices to send punters’ illegal bets to foreign-based bookmakers, sources have told Kathimerini. Police and OPAP officials believe that millions of euros are being gambled in illegal bets and that the turnover of these wagers exceeds even that of the country’s most popular game, OPAP’s Pame Stoichima. If this is so, the annual turnover of illegal bets would exceed 1 billion euros. In the past two weeks, police in Attica have arrested two betting agency owners thought to have played a key role in operating an illegal betting scam. «It was proven that the culprits had a large number of agencies under their control, possibly more than 100,» a high-ranking police officer told Kathimerini. According to an employee of a Scandinavian-based betting agency, such agents can make up to 2,500 euros a week or 100,000 euros a year. Generally, these intermediaries secure 4 percent of turnover. «We find associates to operate as our representatives in Greece (who) gather bets and send them to us through the Internet,» the employee told Kathimerini. «They are operating as transitional agents until the OPAP monopoly ends,» he said. «We try to avoid getting involved with agency owners although most companies do,» he added. Agencies involved in organizing illegal bets also enjoy a large turnover from Pame Stoichima as a portion of the cash wagered in illegal bets is often played on this game, an officer of the police’s illegal games unit told Kathimerini. «When an agent takes a bet for several thousand euros, he sends part of the money to the foreign company and plays the rest on a legal bet,» he said.