OPAP profits hammered by Greek taxes

Greek gambling monopoly's profits take a 61 percent hit

The Greek gambling monopoly OPAP is anticipating a profit cut of 61 percent in Q2/2010 as a result of a windfall tax imposed by the government on businesses to shore up its ailing finances.

Industry analysts say expected group net profit of Euros 60.5 million is a significant decline from the Euros 155.5 million in the same period a year ago.

The Greek government signed up to a Euro 110 billion bailout with the IMF and its European Union partners, and then had to impose a debt crisis levy on 2009 corporate profit. In OPAP's case this sliced a massive Euros 94 million off the gambling group's Q2 earnings.

OPAP enjoyed a relatively successful second quarter, with increased wagers on sports betting game Stihima up 22 percent during the football World Cup, offsetting lower revenues from the domestic Greek market which has been badly affected by the economic crisis. Sales overall were up 5.8 percent to Euros 1.37 billion. A series of jackpot rollovers in lottery game Joker also boosted revenues.

The 34 percent state owned OPAP said it expects flat full-year sales due to austerity measures and a deepening recession in Greece. Last year, it had sales of Euros 5.4 billion.

The share price for the company has declined 24.4 percent since the start of the year, in line with a 24 percent drop on the Athens bourse's benchmark index, according to a Reuters news agency report.

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