Olympic Entertainment squeezes more profit from fewer casinos


olympic-entertainment-casino-profitEastern European gaming operator Olympic Entertainment Group (OEG) enjoyed a profit bump in the first half of 2018 despite the ongoing reduction of its core retail casino business.

Figures released Thursday show OEG’s gross revenue hit €106.6m in the six months ending June 30, a modest 2% improvement over the same period last year. Earnings improved 5.7% to €21.7m while net profit jumped 16.7% to €14.7m, primarily through a significant reduction in income tax payments.

The gains came despite OEG’s shrinking retail base, which saw the company’s complement of casinos shrink to 115 from 117 at the end of H1 2017 (and from 125 at the end of H1 2016). Similarly, OEG’s number of slot machines fell 2% to 4,021, electronic roulette terminals decreased by 6% to 109, gaming tables slipped 5.4% to 156 and poker tables shrank 4.5% to 63.

Over the past couple years, OEG was forced to exit the Polish market while fighting a rearguard action against anti-gaming officials in Latvia’s capital Riga. OEG was also facing the potential loss of four venues in Slovakia’s capital Bratislava until the city’s casino ban was overturned by a local court in June.

Latvia remains OEG’s top market, with some 53 gaming venues generating revenue of €17.1m in the three months ending June 30. Estonia’s 24 venues ranked second with €13.6m, while Italy’s 14 venues contributed €8.2m.

OEG also operates retail and online sports betting via its Malta-licensed OlyBet brand, but OEG doesn’t break out separate numbers for its online operations. In February, OEG announced plans to launch online operations in Italy, although this was before the country’s new government announced its draconian plan to prohibit all gambling advertising and sponsorship.

This spring, OEG announced its intention to delist from the Estonian stock exchange after some deep-pocketed private equity types made the company’s investors an offer they couldn’t refuse. However, on May 31 the Listing and Surveillance Committee of the Nasdaq Tallinn Stock Exchange rejected OEG’s plans to delist prior to the formal completion of the takeover, a move that OEG has appealed.