MegaMillions prize tops half-billion; OPAP online vendor shortlist; Intralot FY stats

opap-shortlist-intralot-mega-millionsFriday’s expected jackpot in the US multi-state Mega Millions lottery has hit a record $540m with one day of sales still left to go. Total ticket sales through Tuesday were already over $800m. Lottery retailers across the 42 states that participate in the Mega Millions are reporting frenzied crowd scenes straight out of the final hour of Titanic at their lottery terminals. Of course, Illinois residents can avoid the lines and delays by purchasing their tickets online, the only US citizens currently eligible to do so. By late Thursday, Illinois Lottery officials reported having sold $425k worth of tickets online since Sunday’s launch, $64k on Thursday alone. Retail sales on Thursday? $3.2m.

The Greek state lottery is also looking to make a move online. Greek betting monopoly OPAP – which controls the lottery – has shortlisted three companies to assist their online venture: GTECH, Playtech and Intralot. OPAP CEO Yannis Spanoudakis told reporters on Thursday that the company was in the “final phase to pick a vendor” and “the aim” was to select the likely lads “by the third quarter.” Intralot will be hoping for a different outcome than the tender for the Illinois Lottery in 2010. That prize was won by the Northstar Lottery Group, the joint venture of Scientific Games and GTECH, which prompted Intralot to raise holy hell about the fairness of the bid process.

OPAP hasn’t yet decided what other forms of online gambling will be permitted under its liberalization scheme. OPAP has been gussying itself up in anticipation of the Greek government selling off all but 5% of its stake in the company to pay down some of its International Monetary Fund/European Union bailout billions. OPAP’s most recent financials were underwhelming, showing a 21% drop in profit.

Intralot has just released its own 2011 numbers, which show Group consolidated revenues rising 7.8% to €1.2b. EBITDA was up marginally from €152.7m to €153.8m, while earnings after taxes were €17.7m, less than half 2010’s €36.6m. On the plus side, Q4 revenues were up 8.8% and net profits were €6.8m. For the year, the company had a positive cash flow and net debt fell €17.4m. CEO Constantinos Antonopoulos said full-year numbers would have been more impressive but were hampered by higher capital expenditures on new projects.