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Europe news: Sportingbet acquires two Danish firms; OPAP and RGA squabble continues; OPAP close to new IT partner

TAGs: Denmark, greece, GTech, Intralot, OPAP, remote gambling association, Sportingbet

Denmark SportingbetSportingbet finally got itself a new sleeping partner after picking up two buxom Danish bombshells in the shape of Danbook and Scandic bookmakers. It didn’t take long for the sportsbook to get back on the wagon after talks broke down earlier this week with Ladbrokes and the maximum that they will pay for the acquisition is £8.5million. The deal, which is expected to close in early 2012, is contingent on both firms being granted a Danish gaming license. Striking a deal in the Danish market goes to reiterate just how important regulated markets have become for the publicly traded firms. It will mean that they’re getting closer to their aim of making more of a percentage of their revenues from regulated markers and is in addition to the attempted disposal of their Turkish business. One fact remains: for the time being they aren’t getting their hands on the Asian market.

In Greece, the war of words that has broken out over the country’s gambling industry monopoly OPAP is continuing to play itself out in the media. OPAP argues that the State Aid complaint made by the Remote Gambling Association (RGA) is, “unfounded,” adding that, “Its announcement is misleading and exclusively aimed at creating impressions.”

It comes back to the RGA’s reasoning that the new tax regime being introduced by Greece constitutes State Aid as OPAP pays no tax on offline transactions. OPAP denies this and argues that the amounts being paid by each side are fair. The statement concludes by stating, “Following all this, it is obvious that by its complaint to the EC the RGA tries to create impressions, invoking arguments that are not founded on real facts, but on the contrary it is exposing its members who – despite the new law – continue to illegally operate in Greece.”

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Many may question the claim...

RGA chief executive Clive Hawkswood issued a further reply to the claims, explaining that the “opportunity to obtain a Greek license has never been open to these operators prior to the recent legislation passed in Greece, with no regulatory system having previously existed for online gambling.”

He again argued recent EC judgments should be looked at when deciding on a system to tax various gaming industry sectors and that, “It is in fact the norm for online gambling operators to be taxed at a lower rate than land-based operators due to the internationally competitive nature of that business.”

He concluded, “It is [therefore] the RGA’s opinion that the current proposals do not satisfy fundamental EU internal market principals and therefore a State aid complaint has been launched.

“The RGA believes that there are strong grounds for this State aid challenge; the taxation framework poses a serious economic disadvantage for private remote operators licensed in Greece, which requires justification and investigation by the European Commission.”

The EU has thrown out the Greek gambling regulation plans once before and would be no surprise were they to reject their new system of taxation again.

At the same time, OPAP has received two bids in a tender for the company’s new information technology provider. Their current contract with Intralot expires in mid-2012 with a new one sought in order to facilitate growth into online sectors. Intralot and GTECH are the two firms that have submitted financial and technical offers with OPAP having two months to pick who win the tender.

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