ECONOMY

Euro and slot machines improve casino turnover

Casinos, which will no doubt be looking forward to their heaviest annual injection of profits tonight, look upbeat about results for 2002. The total bets in the country’s eight official establishments (Mont Parnes, Thessaloniki’s Hyatt Regency, Loutraki, Rio, Rhodes, Xanthi, Syros and Corfu) are estimated to reach 1.83 billion euros, against 1.62 billion last year. Correspondingly, their turnover is projected to rise from 410 million euros in 2001 to 477.7 million this year. The number of visitors is projected to be about the same. For the first time in the eight years since private casinos received operating licenses in Greece, most of the turnover at several establishments was generated by slot machines, confirming a steady rise in their preference by visitors in recent years. In Loutraki, which tops market shares, turnover is projected to rise from 148.4 million euros in 2001 to 165.4 million this year, despite a lower number of visitors. Mont Parnes, managed to date by State-run Hellenic Tourism Properties (ETA), will change hands next year, after completion of the privatization process with a law to be voted by Parliament. The consortium of Hyatt Regency and construction company Hellenic Technodomiki, which won the tender with an offer for a 51-percent stake, intends to invest about 50 million euros in overhauling the facility. Mont Parnes’s turnover is expected to top 79 million euros this year from 62 million last year. Corfu casino is also expected to go down privatization road in 2003, with ETA retaining a minority interest; the idea for a 100-percent sale seems to have lost favor. ETA is now considering the relocation of the concern. Its turnover is projected to rise to 5.6 million euros from 4.2 million last year. The casino in the Porto Carras resort in Halkidiki, Macedonia, is expected to re-open in 2003, after the settlement reached earlier this year, transferring the license to the owners of the resort, Olympic Technical.