Police have raided the Thessaloniki outlet of UK and Malta-based sportsbetting group StanleyBet International Limited less than two weeks after opening for alleged illegal betting activities.
Last week, officials conducted a similar operation against StanleyBet’s Athens outlet and arrested one person along with seizing machinery and $7,000. Police stated at that time the shop had ‘conducted illegal betting without a permit from the appropriate authorities aiming to make monetary gain at the expense of the Greek state’.
“After a lawsuit filed by OPAP, Greek police arrested the person in charge of StanleyBet's store in Thessaloniki and seized terminals, cash and coupons,' read a statement issued by StanleyBet.
'We are determined to defend a regulated and fair sportsbetting market in Greece.”
OPAP signed a concession agreement with the Government in 2000 that gave it exclusive rights over all operations in the Greek betting market for 20 years. Under the terms of the deal along with current legislation, the monopoly also has exclusive rights over the operation and management of any new games in Greece on sporting events.
However, StanleyBet stated that it has a legal right to provide services under European Union law and prior European Court of Justice rulings. The firm requested a licence to operate in Greece in 2005 but has not received a response, which forced it to take the issue before the country's highest court, the Council of State. This case is still pending with one industry observer stating that StanleyBet's move into Greece was designed to speed up these proceedings.
'By opening the stores, StanleyBet wanted to speed up a ruling by the Council of State, which could open the way for the case to go to the European Commission or the European Court of Justice,' said George Vitorakis, an analyst for Athens-based National/P&K Securities.