ECONOMY

OPAP, Intralot decide how to boost fortunes

Betting systems developer Intralot and state-controlled gaming firm OPAP agreed yesterday on measures to stop the decline of «Pame Stoichima,» their joint odds betting venture, and the rise of illegal betting by offering domestic soccer games and many more events to punters. Despite being a monopoly, Pame Stoichima has faced a drop in revenues as betting has proliferated on the Internet, where choosing Greek soccer and other local sports is possible. Meanwhile, the OPAP network of agents have had their terminals busy with the new numbers game, Kino. The changes include gradually including domestic sports events combined with foreign ones from this fall, in-play betting during live televised events, and new over/under bets for such figures as goals or points total, corners or fouls won etc. In addition, other sports events such as tennis, volleyball, water polo and handball will be included, as well as more motor sports and non-sports events from politics, economy and the arts, pending OPAP’s approval. Thousands of euros were bet on Greece’s Eurovision entry last month on foreign websites, signifying a major loss of revenues for Pame Stoichima and for the state in taxes. The share of the turnover going to players will increase from the relatively low 60 percent today to 66 percent, a point that had long made punters turn elsewhere. The two companies have also agreed that Intralot, which operates the system through the OPAP network of betting agents, will provide its partner with 2,000 new terminals for Pame Stoichima without charge within eight months. Revenues of the monopoly betting system are expected to decline by 35 to 40 percent annually in the year’s second quarter, mainly due to the exceptionally high turnover last year during the European soccer championship. For OPAP, though, this decline will probably be balanced out by Kino, whose rise in the second quarter is expected to reach 95 or 100 percent from 2004, bringing OPAP’s revenues in the current quarter on a par with last year. OPAP has indicated it plans to set up a subsidiary to manage and operate Stoichima after the end of its contract with Intralot in early 2007.