OPAP makes ‘largest taxpayer in Greece’ claim following 2014 results

OPAP makes ‘largest taxpayer in Greece’ claim following 2014 results

Wednesday, April 1, 2015 Totally Gaming

OPAP has claimed it is “the largest taxpayer in Greece” after the gaming operator announced its financial results for 2014.

OPAP said that it paid out €68.8m ($73.9m) in income tax during the year to December 31, 2014.

The company, which was reporting on its first full year since privatisation in 2013, said that it was “of material importance” that its growth meant “significantly higher proceeds” for the ailing Greek economy.

The company reported revenues of €4.3bn in 2014, up 14.8 per cent year-on-year, with gross gaming revenue at €1.4bn (up 12.9 per cent) and EBITDA at €346.5m, which was up a huge 56.3 per cent.

Kamil Ziegler, OPAP chairman and chief executive, said: “In the first full year after OPAP’s privatisation, in which considerable restructuring and developing activities were performed, our financial results exhibited a strong rising trend in every metric, demonstrating our commitment towards delivering tangible value to all of our stakeholders.

“The improvement came as a result of new product offering, successful rejuvenation actions pertaining to our legacy portfolio, cost optimisation in every segment of our business and the significant effort of all of our employees.

“It is of material importance to pinpoint that the reported growth led to significantly higher proceeds for the Greek state as well, making OPAP the largest taxpayer in Greece.”

Ziegler added that 2015 would be “a challenging and also a very exciting year”. He added: “We, in OPAP, believe that it will prove a year of opportunity as we are fully up to speed with our targets both in terms of new products’ implementation as well as financial capacity.”

Meanwhile, gaming companies in Cyprus have demanded that the state ends OPAP’s monopoly on lottery games, claiming that the current system hurts competition and contravenes EU fair trade policies.

Based on a bilateral agreement signed by Cyprus and Greece – which was renewed in 2003 – OPAP is the only company allowed to run lottery games on the island.

However, the betting companies, speaking to newspaper Cyprus Mail, argue that since the Greek state is no longer a shareholder following privatisation in 2013 – when Greek-Czech group Emma Delta Hellenic Holding Limited bought 33 per cent of stock – OPAP’s special status should be abolished.

Cyprus Betting Companies Association (CBCA) chairman Akis Avraamides said: “We demand an end to the monopoly and preferential treatment OPAP receives from the state. This is now a public company and it’s owned by Czechs.

“Betting companies invest millions, give large sums back to the state, pay taxes, open up job posts and much more.”

A Greek court ruled last September that OPAP's betting monopoly on lotteries and sports betting in the country is legal, rejecting a long-standing challenge by rival firms and securing the company's market dominance in Greece.

Earlier this month, Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis proposed raising revenue for state coffers through selling gambling licenses to online gaming providers.

He said that each five-year contract would cost around €3m, with the value of tax revenues from online gambling estimated to be worth around €500m per year to the state.

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