OPAP wins appeals court ruling over its dispute with Intralot

State-controlled lottery and pools group OPAP yesterday won an appeal against a court ruling ordering it to compensate gaming systems provider Intralot for delaying a launch of new games, sending its shares to an all-time high. Risk provisions made for potential damages have weighed on OPAP’s 2002 and 2003 results. Intralot said after the ruling it would take its case against OPAP to Greece’s supreme court. Europe’s biggest betting group by market value filed an appeal last year to overturn a January 2003 ruling that awarded Intralot 37.4 million euros ($47.27 million) for each year it delays the launch of new betting games, including dog and horse races. Potentially, OPAP stood to pay Intralot 261.8 million euros, until the contract expired on January 28, 2007. The appeals court said that, since the necessary ministerial decisions authorizing OPAP to proceed with betting on horse and dog races were never signed, it would be illegal to do so on its own. The court went further, finding irregularities in the way Intralot was awarded the contract over a competitor, Krulling Ltd, which the judges found was discriminated against. OPAP shares closed up 2.49 percent at 14.84 after hitting 15 euros, an all-time high, earlier in the session while the broad index ended down 1.2 percent. Intralot shares ended 5.80 percent lower at 15.28 euros. Intralot yesterday reported its group pretax profit rose 18.3 percent, to 88.7 million euros, falling short of its forecasts and coming at the low end of market expectations. OPAP reported earlier this month a 14 percent increase in its full-year net profit to 235 million euros. (Reuters, Kathimerini)