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Cyprus to investigate betting operator O...

Cyprus to investigate betting operator OPAP

Published on March 13, 2017

Cypriot attorney-general Costas Clerides commanded the local police to launch investigation into OPAP. The order came after the Greek lottery and betting operator refused to show its financial records for a government audit unless a confidentiality agreement is signed.

According to the local press, the treasurer of the House finance committee sought the advice from the attorney general and was informed not to sign the agreement. OPAP then declined to reveal requested financial information, leaving the attorney-general no other choice but to launch the investigation.

OPAP was operating in Cyprus since 1969. However, last year the Cypriot government decided to revise its agreement with the operator and announced its intentions to regulate OPAP’s betting games via legislation rather than through a bilateral agreement with Greece. Particularly, Cyprus was seeking to update the arrangement in terms of the government’s share of OPAP’s Cyprus revenue.

Last month, a report on OPAP’s current deal with Cyprus was issued by the auditor-general Odysseas Michaelides. It identified a number of financial practices that the company failed to deliver. For instance, OPAP is required to return around 70% of sales to punters however, it was claimed that only 60% is actually returned to them. All in all, Michaelides estimated that Cyprus is losing around 2 million each month.

Currently there is also the legislation under consideration that would imply OPAP to pay Cyprus 24% of its gross profits annually. In exchange, OPAP would maintain its monopoly over lottery games for a fixed period of time.