Intralot sees sure growth long-term

Lottery company Intralot is seeing rising profits this year on booming foreign business but expects a slight drop in 2007 if a Greek sports betting contract is not renewed, its chief executive said yesterday. Intralot, the world’s third-largest gaming systems operator by revenues, manages gaming monopoly OPAP’s flagship sports betting game Stoichima. «The feeling is there will be a serious rise in 2006 net profit and turnover,» Intralot CEO Constantinos Antonopoulos told Reuters in an interview. «But we might have a small trough in 2007 net if we lose Stoichima and no new contracts are signed.» Last week, the operator announced a 28.6 percent rise in 2005 net profit to 69.9 million euros, as booming foreign operations more than offset slower domestic revenues. Intralot has set an aggressive global expansion plan, clinching deals in Europe, Africa, the Middle East, Oceania and the Americas in recent years. «If new contracts in Asia, South Africa, Australia and Europe are signed in 2006 and mature in 2007, Greek Stoichima will not be of much importance any more,» Antonopoulos said. Intralot has bid for more contracts in Taiwan, South Africa and Australia. This year it expects tender results in these three countries, whose betting market is around 5.3 billion euros. Intralot has also set its sights on China to cash in on European soccer’s rising popularity in the country. «We are interested in providing systems and know-how, while managing the sports bet is also of great interest,» he said. Antonopoulos was confident the group can win OPAP’s tender for a key upgrade of its electronic terminals this year. The tender is estimated at 150-200 million euros and Intralot is competing with GTech and Scientific Games. (Reuters)