OPAP names James Curwen as chief online officer

James Curwen will lead OPAP
James Curwen will lead OPAP

James Curwen will replace Petr Matejovsky as chief online officer at Athens-listed gaming operator OPAP SA.

Greece.- Athens-listed OPAP has announced the appointment of James Curwen as chief online officer to lead its new digital strategy.

He replaces Petr Matejovsky, who leaves the Greek national lottery and sports betting operator after seven years in the role.

Curwen has more than three decades of experience in the gaming industry, including senior roles at William Hill and Superbet and executive leadership roles operators like Ladbrokes.

His appointment comes as OPAP aims to strengthen its online gambling portfolio following its takeover of Kaizen Gaming’s Stoiximan and Betano brands.

OPAP said Curwen was a “well-respected senior leader with the ability to motivate and develop others to consistently achieve excellence, maintain the highest standards and deliver results”.

The operator said: “The company would like to thank Petr for his significant contribution to OPAP’s progress under his roles as Chief Marketing Officer, Chief Customer Officer and Chief Online Officer, and wish him all the best for his future endeavours.”

OPAP reported profit of €199.4m for 2020, a decline of 1 per cent compared to 2019.

Gross gaming revenue (GGR) and net gaming revenue (NGR) fell to €1.12bn and €737m respectively, a decline of 30 per cent and 32 per cent from 2019 due to the impact of retail closures.

However, the company’s profit fell just 1 per cent year-on-year to €199.4m.

Greece awards online gaming licences

The Hellenic Gaming Commission has begun to grant new Greek online gaming and betting licences. It has awarded licences to Play n’ Go, Playson, Betsson, Bet365 and this week to virtual sports betting supplier GoldenRace.

The regulator opened applications for two new Greek online gambling licences in October last year.

Separate seven-year licences are available for online sports betting and for online gaming. Sportsbooks pay a fee of €3m, while the fee for offering games of chance is €2m. Licence holders will also have to pay taxes representing 35 per cent gross gaming revenue.

Successful applicants must limit play to over 21s, while online casino will have strict limits including a €2 maximum slot stake and prize caps of €5,000 and a €50,000 limit for jackpots.

Greece introduced the new framework as part of a package of reforms dubbed “Invest in Greece”. The legislation included measures to streamline planning regulations. 

As part of the regulatory overhaul, the HGC was instructed to increase licensing requirements to cover operators’ key operational and management personnel.

Parties that have already applied for Greek B2C licences must now complete “suitability” disclosures providing details of shareholders, management, manufacturers, technicians and certification bodies.

Unlicensed operators judged to have targeted Greece illegally are not allowed to apply for licences for 12 months following the launch of the new framework. Last August, Greece announced a ban on advertising online slots.

Golden Race’s CEO and founder Martin Wachter said: “We are very happy to be licensed in Greece. It is part of our business strategy to accomplish every country’s requirements to be able to offer our leading virtuals there.” 

The company’s sales director Tassos Panagiotaros added: “They are huge football fans, so it is certain our virtual football is going to meet their needs, with all the popular European leagues and tournaments we offer and especially with our recently released virtual Euro Cup.”

Meanwhile, in land-based casino news, The CEO of Mohegan Gaming and Entertainment has said that the Hellinikon casino in Greece will be ready to launch in 2025-2026.

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