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OPAP fined €24.5m by Hellenic Gaming Commission

| By Marese O'Hagan
The Hellenic Gaming Commission (HGC) has fined Greek gambling group OPAP €24.5m (£21.3m/$26.0m) for breaching elements of Greek law, ruling that it had abused its position in the Greek market.
OPAP fine

The complaints were brought forward by the The Hellenic Cooperative of Professional Lotteries’​ Agents (SEPPP) and other unnamed agents. The complainants alleged that the non-compete clauses in OPAP’s 2017 Exclusivity Agency Agreement, along with OPAP’s activities between 2017 and 2021, breached certain elements of Greek law.

In its decision, the HGC concluded that OPAP had infringed article 2 of law 3959/2011. This law governs the protection of free competition in Greece.

Article 2 prohibits companies from abusing their “dominant position” within the national market. Formerly, OPAP held a monopoly in the Greek market.

Article 2 bans setting unfair selling prices or limiting the distribution of technical equipment. Trading unfairly with other parties or agreeing to contracts subject to acceptance of supplementary obligations also infringes this law.

OPAP was also found to have infringed article 1. This states that all companies trading in Greece must not fix purchase prices, limit investment opportunities or unfairly apply conditions to transactions.

The HGC also ruled that OPAP had breached articles 101 and 102 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU). These outline the same requirements as articles 1 and 2 of law 3959/2011.

The HGC ordered OPAP to stop all operations that breach the aforementioned articles. In relation to article 2 of law 3959/2011 and article 2 of the TFEU, the HGC said it would impose a €10,000 fine for each day the operator does not comply. OPAP was also warned with a fine of €10,000 if it continued to infringe article 1 of law 3959/2011.

The €24.5m fine was handed down for all four stipulated breaches.

OPAP “strongly disagrees” with fine

In a statement, OPAP said the decision to impose the fine was inaccurate. It said this was because the decision was based on its core operations in the gaming market. Instead, OPAP said it was based on services provided by its agencies.

“The company respects the institutional role of independent administrative authorities, including the Hellenic Competition Commission,” read the statement. “Yet, it strongly disagrees with the content of the decision, which it considers fully baseless.

“[HGC’s] decision, which was not unanimous, does not relate with the company’s core business in the gaming market, but has to do with bill payment services and mobile top-up services offered by its agencies.”

OPAP added that that the HGC did not appropriately consider data from the Bank of Greece, which supervises the payments sector in the country.

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