Gambling firm set for measures

Greece’s state-run gambling operator OPAP said yesterday it would file for interim measures against the Greek basketball federation, alleging that it tolerated the promotion of unlicensed betting companies in violation of Greek law. «[The federation] allows and tolerates the promotion of nearly all betting companies illegally operating in Greece, despite prior observations by our company,» read a statement from OPAP, which has had exclusivity over betting activity in Greece since 1996. The legal action was also aimed at the federation’s associate advertising firm, and private sports radio Sport FM. The basketball federation did not return calls for a comment. OPAP is locked in a dispute with the federation over the federation’s opposition to having the matches of Greek clubs and the national team included on «Pame Stoichima,» a betting game that is extremely popular in Greece. Influential federation official Giorgos Vassilakopoulos – who also chairs the European section of world basketball governing body FIBA – recently derided the game as a «curse» equivalent to that of doping. Greece’s state soccer pools operator and one of its few profitable public companies, OPAP in 2004 notched a pretax profit of 742.3 million euros, an increase of 85.1 percent over its 2003 equivalent. The Greek government in July sold a 16.44 percent stake in the company in an effort to bring down a public debt that exceeded 110 percent of GDP in 2004. At the time, Finance Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis said the sum of 1.3 billion euros raised by the sale was «the highest ever gained from a Greek state equity offer.» (AFP)