OPAP online gambling revenue up 166% following pandemic lockdown


Greek lottery and betting operator OPAP saw its profit tumble nearly 40% in the first quarter of 2020 as COVID-19 brought an abrupt halt to land-based gaming.  

Figures released Thursday show OPAP’s gross gaming revenue over the three months ending March 31 totaled €328.3m, a 17.1% decline from the same period last year. Earnings were off 23.6% to €86.4m while net profits slid 37.8% to €33.8m.

The company previously warned that COVID-19 had brought a halt to 99% of its operations in Greece and Cyprus by mid-March, while its fledgling online betting site was unable to shoulder the burden due to the pandemic cancellation of major sports.

Acting CEO Jan Karas, who took over from Damian Cope on June 1, called Q1 “a double-faced quarter,” as pre-pandemic growth had been “sizeable” before everything went to hell. Karas gave a shout-out to OPAP staff for their “swift adaptation to the new norm and working conditions” and for their ability to bounce back once the retail all-clear was sounded.

The mainstay lottery division reported revenue falling 19.4% to €154.5m in Q1, although the decline had been only 0.8% in the pre-lockdown period. Betting revenue was down 13.5% to €88m, but was up 3.2% pre-lockdown.

The increasingly important video lottery terminal (VLT) segment fared surprisingly well, falling only 3.4% to €66.6m and had been up 21.5% pre-lockdown. The Instant & Passives lottery segment took the biggest hit, falling 43% to just €19.2m.

OPAP’s Pamestoixima betting site added virtual and casino games during Q1, while the online version of the Tzoker (Joker) lottery product had “materially increased its penetration, active users and revenue figures” during the retail lockdown.

The net effect was a 166% rise in online revenue in the 14 weeks since the lockdown began, while active online players increased 201%. The trick now will be to ensure online growth as the pandemic lockdown starts to ease.

OPAP’s betting shops and lottery vendors were cleared to resume operations on May 11, although customers weren’t allowed to linger inside to play Kino or other electronic games. Those restrictions were lifted on June 6. Two days later, OPAP’s VLT operations got the nod to resume operations in betting shops as well as the PLAY gaming halls in both Greece and Cyprus.