ECONOMY

Intralot bets on new lottery deals as markets open, profit up 59.6 percent

Intralot, the world’s third-largest lottery systems supplier, said a worldwide shift to more liberalized gaming markets should drive its growth, while it seeks new contracts to offset the loss of a key game in Greece. «The much-awaited liberalization of gaming markets in Europe has started,» Intralot Chief Executive Constantinos Antonopoulos said in a statement yesterday. «It is possible other US and international lotteries will follow, which would mean the opening of a potentially large market.» Intralot, with operations in 32 countries, has launched an aggressive global expansion plan in a bid to make up for the imminent loss of its fixed-odds sports betting game Stoichima in Greece, which would mean lower revenues. Intralot said it had bid for fixed-odds betting and horse-racing licences in Italy. These, along with more lottery privatization projects expected in the United States, will contribute to its future growth. Intralot currently operates Stoichima for Greek betting monopoly OPAP and receives a commission of about 10 percent on the game’s sales. Analysts estimate the sum at 1.7 billion euros in the nine months to September. Its contract expires early next year as OPAP aims to take Stoichima’s operation in-house. Intralot clinched a 65-million-euro deal earlier in November to help OPAP with the transition, a move that will give it more time to fill the gap. Intralot delivered a 59.6 percent rise in nine-month net profit late on Monday, in line with market expectations. Its shares were up 3.07 percent to 22.84 euros yesterday, outperforming the broader Greek market. Net profit rose to 82 million euros, boosted by bumper revenues from World Cup soccer bets, from a downwardly revised 51.4 million in the same period last year. Group sales grew 71.7 percent to 572.8 million euros as the World Cup soccer tournament boosted fixed-odds betting turnover in Greece, Turkey and Bulgaria. Maturing international business also boosted earnings, with foreign operations accounting for 69 percent of the group’s pretax profit, which rose 48.4 percent to 172.5 million euros. (Reuters)