June 17, 2010 (CAP News Wire) – Facing a severe economic crisis that’s dominated headlines and threatens to undercut the world economy, Greece has announced that it plans to lift its ban on Internet gambling, presumably to bring in more revenue.

The announcement was made as Greece’s OPAP (OPAr.AT), which Reuters calls “Europe’s biggest betting firm”, is considering cutting its divided payout (i.e., the payment to its stockholders) because of the economic crisis.  

Perhaps because of this, “debt-ridden Greece said on Tuesday it would soon release a draft bill to lift a ban on … Internet betting in a bid to raise government revenues as it scrambles to shore up public finances,” reports Reuters.

“The regulative framework will soon be presented for public consultation,” the government’s finance ministry said in an email, according to another Reuters report.

OPAP has stated that it would “secure the necessary technology ahead of the possible opening of internet betting in Greece,” the article continues.

Like most countries where online gambling is illegal, people do still gamble on the Internet in Greece, where the market is estimated to be worth 3.5 to 5 billion euros.

The good: Legalizing online gambling is a positive trend, particularly considering that making it illegal simply doesn’t work (see above). The bad: It’s becoming something of a negative stigma that governments only legalize iGaming when the economy is in crisis mode. What happens when the economy recovers — does online gambling stay legal, or is it once again targeted by the “moral crusader” politicians?


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