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Wednesday, May 22, 2024

OPAP SCANDAL: 7+1 grounds of guilt…

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ΣΚΑΝΔΑΛΟ ΟΠΑ ;Π: 7+1 λoγοι ενοχorς…

The Republic of Cyprus, despite the government's sudden… generosity with benefits and generous debt cancellations, needs more revenue and the issue with the new gambling bill as well as the implementation of the interstate agreement with OPAP from 2004 until today are issues that should concern politicians and officials who are interested in maintaining budget surpluses and easing citizens' burdens.

By Alexia Kafetzis

Therefore, a bill that can increase the state's revenue by at least 20 million euros per year and at the same time create new jobs should be a priority for everyone. And yet, it seems that the only one who cares is the online newspaper you read and the ordinary citizens who react with all kinds of gifts that leave their pockets and end up in companies and big executives.

The “24” opened the OPAP file first and insists for 8 very clear reasons:

  • OPAP decriminalized and continues to decriminalize gambling. OPAP agencies run continuous e-draws every five minutes, the well-known KINO, which is addictive and has therefore skyrocketed OPAP's turnover and profits since it was introduced. The picture in the OPAP agencies with most of them constantly looking at a screen and filling out slips shows how addictive gambling can be. In fact, the irony is even greater if one considers how much interest the government showed in the effects of gambling with the casino bill, but how little interest it shows in the case of the gaming bill.
  • In OPAP agencies do not check for minors. How many times have you seen little kids come into the agency to play their father's joker or their grandfather's bet? Shouldn't there be control and even strict control from the side of the Authorities? Is there the same control as the other agencies? Therefore, OPAP cannot appear as an equal interlocutor of the government and the authorities as if it were carrying out a social project, when in fact it is a company that is addicting Cypriots to gambling.
  • The state funds they lose millions of euros. This is a fact that no one can dispute, as long as they see the diagram from the report of the Auditor General, Odysseus Michaelides. OPAP's revenues are skyrocketing due to KINO, but the revenues of the Republic of Cyprus remain at the same levels as in 2001 and 2002. The public interest is clearly affected by the implementation of the contract with OPAP, especially in recent years, but OPAP denies any responsibility.
  • The new bill does not provide for the revenues that should be for the state. It is a scandal of the first degree that a bill is being prepared that will provide for taxation of only 26.5% on the GGR of OPAP for the Republic of Cyprus. At the same time, the private organization pays 35% in Greece, but continues to show super profits. The political leadership, including the opposition parties, as well as the independent authorities, shows a characteristic weakness in taking the appropriate decisions to increase public revenues. In fact, the taxation of the new bill did not even reach 30%.
  • OPAP refuses state controls.A question raised by the Auditor General is how it is possible for OPAP not to pay the Republic of Cyprus the corresponding sums that should be based on an interstate contract and in fact special reference was made to this fact in the last two annual reports. This became abundantly clear this year when the Accountant General asked to check OPAP's books in depth and the private organization not only refused, but even appealed to the Supreme Court to not even accept the police investigation. When it comes to figures that are announced annually and publicly, one rightly wonders why they are fighting OPAP to avoid control?
  • OPAP represents the non-profit organization with taxpayers' money. The famous 1% that OPAP is obliged to offer to charity and sports actions, is deducted from the percentage of taxation paid by the Organization even in the new bill. Instead of giving 27.5% and the State handling 1%, it will give 26.5% to the State and OPAP will have control over the remaining 1% which is given through non-transparent procedures.
  • He distributes money and controls the press. OPAP's advertising budget is allocated without control to the media, where there could even be a conflict of interest, with the result that the Organization ensures “shielding” against any criticism. For example, the EAC or CYTA go through thorough control for their advertising campaigns, while OPAP “makes a game” by influencing the fourth estate, which after the crisis depends to a large extent on the big advertisers.
  • State in state. The last reason is perhaps the most important. One of the largest organizations that has been active in Cyprus for over ten years has managed to penetrate everywhere. In parties, in independent Authorities, in Cypriot households with its uninterrupted presence on televisions, newspapers and radios, OPAP is everywhere. The corruption of Cypriot society through the abundance of money can be seen in the way the parties (didn't) react to the new privileged gambling bill which again scandalously favors OPAP, the way the independent authorities (didn't) react, the way they accept the Cypriots that they are one of the most gambling-addicted peoples in the world, as a result of which they spend millions of euros every year in the conqueror's casinos. OPAP, the only monopoly that enjoys the favor of the Cypriot state, has played a major role in the corruption of Cypriot society.

Source: 24h.com.cy

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