Article by Rob van der Gaast

Privatization comes in handy. Is seems to be a magic tonic. Daily we hear people talking about “privatizations”. One can privatize, Roads, Schools, Golf Courses, Airports, Postal Services, Energy, Prisons, Marinas, Water, Nursing Homes… …and GAMBLING.

“Gambling-Privatization” is an other panacea, where Governments are suddenly focusing on as a desirable target: Why not privatize it?

It will only be a matter of time. Governments need the money and the cash rich gambling operators have that money. And even the lotteries in North America will surrender to the Gambling-Privatization wave.

For Europe the arguments will be two fold: ”it is the money stupid…“, and a very brave European Commission who is after Finland, the Federal Republic of Germany (16 states), Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Greece, etc. All on the list to be privatized.

The definition of Gambling-Privatization: Changing a gambling operation from state (monopoly) to private (partial) ownership or control.
Gambling-Privatization is a process of moving from a government-controlled gambling system to a privately run, for-profit system.
That means that Gambling-Privatizations is including, Deregulation, Liberalisation, Leasing, Tendering, etc. .

The most well known gambling-privatization is Greece’s national lottery OPAP. In 2001 there was a partial gambling-privatization of 5.4% of the ordinary shares through a public offering) in July 17, in 2002, the Hellenic Republic sold a further 18.9%, further in July 12, 2003, the Government sold an additional part of 24.4%, and in July 2005, the government sold 16.44% of its remaining 51% stake in OPAP, raising some € 1.3 billion for the Greek Treasury.

The UK National Lottery is another famous Gambling-Privatization object. The National Lottery Commission is responsible for “awarding a single license to a commercial operator to run the National Lottery for the benefit of the nation”.

  • First license (including an interim license): 1994 – 2002;
  • Second license: 2002 – 2009;
  • Third license: 2009 – 2019.

The ongoing privatization of the National Lottery of Turkey, Milli Piyango, started as a Gambling-Privatization through a transfer of operation rights (TOOR), and changed during the progression to a concession tender transfer for the gaming license of the national lottery for a period of 10 year.
After the collapse of the render, the head of the privatization authority, Turkey’s Privatization Administration President Metin Kilci, said that his administration would revise the tender structure and the scheduling. And he added that the new tender should be more “participatory and competitive”. The re-start of the tender should still take place in 2009, according to Kilci: ”We already started to work on the new tender. We have seven months ahead of us. We will try to realize this time a successful privatization.

After all the failures and delays of the Turkish privatization program, including the privatization of the National Lottery, one should think that a change at the helm of the privatization authority would be needed. However that is not the case. The head of the Turkey’s privatization administration, Metin Kilci, did not involve his gaming privatization specialist.

Ongoing European Gambling-Privatizations are:
Deregulation of Danish Gambling Market (AB Svenska Spel);
French Sports Betting Liberalisation;
Milli Piyango Lottery Tender.