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New OPAP boss; Stanleybet protests Italian bet shop tender; Cyprus poker snafu

TAGs: cyprus, Italy, OPAP, stanleybet

opap-italy-stanleybet-cyprus-pokerGreece has anointed economist/former finance minister Konstantinos Louropoulos as the new president and CEO of the country’s monopoly betting outfit OPAP. Louropoulos replaces Ioannis Spanoudakis, who’d held the OPAP reins since December 2009. The switcheroo follows June’s general election, a traditional opportunity for shaking up state-controlled companies. The Greek gov’t is looking to sell 29% of its 34% stake in OPAP this autumn, although this is hardly the first time it’s made that claim.

Italy has issued a tender for 2,000 new betting shops with four-year licenses at a price of €11k per. Applicants and their tech infrastructure must be based in a country in the European Economic Area, where they also must hold a gaming license for a type of game handled by Italian regulator AAMS. Deadline for applying is Oct. 6. The announcement has drawn fire from UK operator Stanleybet, who have already filed a complaint with the European Commission over Italy’s Decree-Law 16/12. Stanleybet’s main beef is similar to the war it previously waged with Italy – namely, that the plan is designed to favor existing domestic operators, such as the 1,000 who enjoyed exclusion zones under the old regime, and whose licenses expired in June but were allowed to continue operating under temporary extensions. Stanleybet smells protectionism, and as history has taught us, Stanleybet tends to follow through on its court fights. Settle in, folks… This might take a while.

As the World Poker Tour prepares to kick off Season XI on Aug. 4 with the WPT Merit Cyprus Classic, the Cyprus Poker Association (CPA) is up in arms after police arrested over 30 members of the group for practicing their game ahead of an international tournament in London, despite no money changing hands and the CPA having told police in advance of their plans. The Cyprus Mail reported that 13 CPA members were arrested in Lamaca on July 22, and a further 18 arrests were made in Limassol on July 28. The CPA is trying to select the 10 best players to represent Cyprus against teams from 43 other countries at the Nations Cup competition in London in September. The CPA’s Antonis Theophanides said his group “notified the police in writing and also by phone that these events were taking place,” providing dates, times and venues three weeks in advance. Notices were also sent to the attorney general, the interior minister and the president of the Cyprus sports federation. Theophanides claims an officer subsequently contacted him, asked some questions, then told Theophanides “that what we were doing was within the law and that we could continue with the tournament.” So what happened? A police spokesman would say only that officers “are continuing to investigate the case.”

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