BUSINESS

OPAP’s Q1 profit beats forecasts

Gambling monopoly OPAP posted higher-than-expected quarterly profit due to a rise in sports betting and cost-cutting.

The company said first-quarter net profit rose 27.6 percent to 49.7 million euros, beating the average forecast of seven analysts in a Reuters poll of 44.5 million euros.

A six-year recession and a 30 percent levy slapped on gross gaming revenue last year has dented OPAP’s profit.

But the company’s moves to rejuvenate its games and cut costs is paying off.

The company launched a new scratch card on May 1 and plans to expand into online sports gambling and video lottery gaming machines, which are expected to create significant growth in the coming years.

Chief Executive Officer Kamil Ziegler, who took over in October, said that 2014 would be a good year thanks to the new games.

“The improved performance together with the successful and well-perceived launch of the scratch tickets... makes us confident that 2014 will prove to be overall a rewarding year for all of our stakeholders,” he said in a statement.

Sales also beat expectations, rising by 11 percent to 966 million euros, helped by a 30 percent rise in revenues from popular sports betting game Pame Stoichima.

The game has benefited from a ban on unlicensed online operators last year and more sports events offerings ahead of the soccer World Cup in Brazil on June 12 to July 13.

Shares have gained 30 percent so far this year, largely outperforming the Athens bourse’s general index.

[Reuters]

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