Greek sports betting firm agents to strike against tax reforms

ATHENS (Reuters) - Greek betting firm OPAP's sales agents plan to strike on the day of the Champions League soccer final next week and scale up their action during the World Soccer Cup to protest the way they are taxed.

Analysts said the 24-hour strike on the Champion League final could mean several million euros in revenue losses for OPAP, Europe's biggest gambling firm.

OPAP, which has a monopoly on sports betting and lotteries in the country until 2020, is 34 percent owned by the state. Its 5,300 Greek agents are the only ones allowed to sell the firm's products.

Under a new tax regime, decided as part of reforms aimed at plugging Greece's fiscal gap, OPAP's agents will now be taxed on their profits instead of a flat rate on their revenues.

The agents plan to walk off their jobs for 24 hours on May 22 and also threatened rolling 48-hour strikes during the World Cup in South Africa between June 11 and July 11.

OPAP was not immediately available for comment.

Analysts warned of the cost of the strike on the day of the League final.

"The strike could have an impact of about 20 million euros on OPAP's revenues," said Investment Bank of Greece analyst Dimitris Birbos.

The agents also want OPAP to increase their fees and raise payout to winners to offset the impact of the Greek debt crisis and of competition by illegal online betting, whose annual revenues are estimated at about 5.0 billion euros.

They currently receive fees of 7, 8 or 12 percent on the games' revenues and demand a uniform 12 percent rate for all games.

(Reporting by Angeliki Koutantou; Editing by Ingrid Melander)