News Business OPAP Gains Takeover Approval

OPAP Gains Takeover Approval

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A leading Greek online gaming company has earned the approval of the Greek regulator for its proposed takeover of an online bookmaker.

On Tuesday, the Greek regulator the Hellenic Gaming Commission (HCC) officially gave its approval for OPAP, which is the country’s largest betting operator, to gain a majority stake in the Stoiximan Group.

The news marks the end stage of a takeover that was launched at the beginning of the year, and will see OPAP take a 51% stake in the online bookmaker. But before the current takeover, OPAP had invested €50 million in obtaining a 37% share in the company. Stoiximan is a Greek and Cypriot venture, currently run by the online group GML Interactive, based in Malta.

According to reports, the stake is worth €95 million and will be managed by OPAP Investments, who have been named as co-owners of the Stoiximan Group along with TCB Holdings.

But the deal had inevitably led to the involvement of the HCC, given the prominent position of OPAP in the Greek betting market. The review also came at the same time as the Greek government is seeking to reform the gambling industry. Last week, the Greek President Prokopis Pavlopolous approved a bill that imposed an additional €2 million fee on operators who want to offer online casino games, and a license fee of €3 million.

There remains a final hurdle. OPAP will need to gain the approval of Cyprus’s regulatory body, the Competition and Consumer Protection Authority.

And OPAP itself is also under threat. Last week, the Czech-based SAZKA Group increased its share in OPAP from 33% to 40%. That comes after Czech billionaire Karel Komarek Jr took over SAZKA this summer. Under his leadership, the Group has been focused on expanding its range of operations into new markets in Europe.

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