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EU Court Says Greek Gambling Monopoly Is Illegal

The battle over whether or not Greece's Opap SA company monopoly within the gaming industry was legal came to an end this week. The European Union's highest court ruled that the company's monopoly in the gaming industry was illegal under EU agreements.

This is not the first time a country has come under siege from the EU regarding their gambling laws. Over the past five years, Italy, France, Spain, and Germany have all changed their gaming laws to begin complying with trade agreements.

Greece had been fighting the charges brought on by Ladbrokes, Betfair, and William Hill, asserting that Opap's monopoly was illegal. The high court finally agreed with the gaming companies, and gave Greece a way to keep the monopoly in place.

The court claims the monopoly can remain intact if Greece creates tougher restrictions and regulations to protect Greek gamblers. If not, the country will be forced to start allowing foreign companies licensed in EU nations to accept Greek customers.

When the ruling came down from the EU, it sent a shock wave through investors. Opap stock was down 11% at 6.27 euros by mid-morning trading on Thursday. Other gaming company stock rose after the ruling, including William Hill, which was up nearly three percent, and Ladbrokes, which rose four percent.

Greece will now have to decide what to do with the future of their gaming industry. Cpmanies such as William Hill, Sportingbet, and Stanleybet have all previously applied for and have been denied gaming licenses in Greece. It is unknown whether the companies plan to refile their applications after the EU court ruling.

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