Greece raises tax on OPAP; readies tender for 33% stake20th September 2012 8:49 am GMT
Shares in Greek gaming monopoly operator OPAP fell by more than 18 per cent Wednesday after the government confirmed plans to increases the taxes levied on the state-controlled company.
The finance ministry said Wednesday that following directives from the European Commission, it has agreed to impose a 10 per cent tax on all player winnings from January 1st 2013. Previously, OPAP players were only liable to taxation on winnings of over €100, while private online gaming operators’ players were liable to taxation on all winnings.
The unfair treatment of private operators led the Remote Gambling Association (RGA) to file a complaint against the state with the European Commission in October 2011.
The Greek government also said it would impose a 30 per cent tax on OPAP’s gross profits from all games, bringing the land-based side of the business in line with the online operations which are already subject to a 30 per cent tax rate, as are private online gaming operations. The 30 per cent tax rate on OPAP’s gross profit comes into force on January 1st 2013 until October 2020, and will fall to 5 per cent in the period between 2020 and 2030.
The finance ministry added that it would also increase the tax payable by OPAP on its gaming machines (VLT) business from 30 per cent to a maximum of 35 per cent, if OPAP’s profits exceed certain limits.
The realignment of OPAP’s tax rates clears the way for the planned sale of the 33 per cent stake in the company which the state currently holds.
The Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund, which is in charge of the government’s divestment programme, said Wednesday that the terms of the Expression of Interest invitation for the stake in OPAP have been approved and that it expects to launch the tender process within the coming days.