Greek betting firm - July 1st smokng ban has resulted in a further fall in sales..

July 16, 2009 - Agents for Greek betting firm OPAP (OPAr.AT), Europe's biggest, went on strike on Thursday, July 16th over a tax on winnings and said a new smoking ban in public places in Greece had added to a fall in sales.

OPAP sales agents union head Kyriakos Toptsidis: "There was already a drop due to the global downturn but with the smoking ban the fall came to 25-30 percent (year on year)."

The union, which represents about 5,300 retail outlets selling lottery cards and sports betting games across Greece, went on strike to protest a tax on betting winnings.

Greece passed a law this week which scrapped tax-free betting winnings and set the tax at 10 percent, a move which could hit OPAP's profit.

The smoking ban took effect on July 1, 2009.

Toptsidis said all OPAP retail outlets were closed and called on the government to repeal the tax.

"The participation rate is close to 100 percent," he said, adding that agents had also seized OPAP's data processing centers in Athens and Thessaloniki, the country's two biggest cities. He said the new tax would discourage players from wagering their profits in OPAP's flagship games Stihima and Kino.

Reference: UPDATE 1-OPAP agents strike, say smoking ban hitting sales by Angeliki Koutantou (Editing by Jason Neely), Reuters, 7/16/2009.

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