BUSINESS

OPAP profits gutted by tax, race on to unveil online sportsbook by World Cup

TAGs: greece, GTech, OPAP, sports betting

opap-betting-taxGreek gambling operator OPAP posted a 72% decline in profit in 2013 thanks to the imposition of a new 30% tax intended to help shore up the country’s dire finances. Revenue for the 12 months ending Dec. 31 was down a modest 6.6% to €3.7b but the new tax burden pushed earnings down 67% to €221.7m and pushed profits down to €141m. On a positive note, OPAP’s downward revenue trajectory reversed itself in the second half of 2013, stabilizing in Q3 and rising 4.3% in Q4, good enough for CEO Kamil Ziegler to call the reversal of fortune “an encouraging trend.”

The new tax clawed back some €345m that OPAP otherwise would have booked as profit. Greece announced the new tax in 2012, not so coincidentally around the time it announced it was selling its 34% stake in the company to help repay the €237b bailout the cash-strapped country received from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund. The government’s OPAP stake was eventually purchased by the Emma Delta consortium, which includes Italian lottery and gaming technology supplier GTECH (formerly known as Lottomatica).

Meanwhile, OPAP is working feverishly to unveil its new online sportsbook ahead of this summer’s FIFA World Cup festivities. In March, OPAP announced that GTECH had won the race to power OPAP’s new sports betting product but OPAP execs expressed some skepticism that the product would be ready to go by the World Cup’s kickoff in June. But this week saw Ziegler express a more bullish attitude to analysts, saying OPAP and GTECH had sketched out a phased implementation and were “cooperating well and working hard under a tight timescale to be ready as soon as possible.” Olé, olé, olé…

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