BETFAIR has pulled out of Greece in its second European exit in a month, citing the threat of sanctions from the country’s gambling authorities.
The exchange betting operator has been trading without a licence in the country, claiming that Greek gambling laws violate EU ones.
Earlier this month the Greek Gambling Commission announced a clampdown on non-licensed online bookies, threatening “financial penalties and criminal sanctions” against gaming operators that did not have a permit. The changes have forced Betfair out of Greece, where it had expected to generate £13m of revenue this year.
The firm has previously said it will withdraw most of its business from Germany, after its exchange model – in which players wage bets against each other – was made unviable by a tax hike on sports betting.
Betfair, along with a host of other online bookies and the European Commission, want many countries to liberate their market. The commission has launched proceedings against nine European nations – including Greece and Germany – and will refer them to the European Court of Justice in the coming weeks if they fail to comply. Betfair yesterday said it was “disappointing” that the commission has not acted faster. that the European Commission has, despite previously stated intentions to the contrary, not taken effective action to prevent protectionist behaviour,” it said.
Betfair has not applied for a licence in Greece because online sports betting is monopolised by the country’s partly state-owned bookie Opap.