Leading fixed-odds betting firm StanleyBet International Limited has been ordered by a court in Greece to shut its outlet in Athens again while a higher tribunal considers its right to compete with gambling monopoly OPAP.
StanleyBet opened a shop in the capital alongside one in the northern city of Thessaloniki late last year but authorities soon shut these for not having an operating licence and for violating a law that forbids online betting.
StanleyBet appealed saying that a European Union company should be able to offer services anywhere in the bloc, an opinion that was shared by an administrative court last month. The UK-based firm was given permission to reopen its Athens outlet until a final ruling was reached while OPAP, in turn, appealed to prevent this revival.
'The Athens administrative court accepted OPAP's appeal,' said StanleyBet in a statement.
'The court would not rule on whether StanleyBet's activities are legal or not and did not justify its ruling.'
The case will now be heard in Greece's highest court, the Council of State, after the Government failed to respond to a request for an operating licence. This process could take several years as the Greek’s might ask for an opinion from the European Court of Justice.
StanleyBet stated that it would continue to defend its right to offer its sportsbetting services in Greece and across Europe.
In recent years, StanleyBet and William Hill have unsuccessfully challenged OPAP's monopoly in a bid to grab a niche of Greece's lucrative sportsbetting, which is worth around $2.55 billion. Christos Hadjiemmanuil, Chief Executive Officer for OPAP, was quoted by the Reuters news agency as stating that an upcoming ruling of the European Court of Justice on a similar case in Portugal would set a precedent for its monopoly, which ends in 2020.