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Greek lottery and betting operator OPAP reported record online gambling revenue in the second quarter but it wasn’t enough to arrest the company’s pandemic freefall.  

Figures released Thursday show OPAP generated gross gaming revenue of €179.6m in the three months ending June 30, a 53.2% decline from the same period last year. Net gaming revenue was down 54.4% to €118m, earnings slid 81.7% to €16.2m and the company booked a net loss of €15.1m versus a €34.6m profit in Q2 2019.  

OPAP was forced to close its retail operations – including its highly lucrative video lottery terminal (VLT) network – in mid-March, which the company said at the time would mean a 99% overall revenue reduction. Retail operations began to resume in early June, rescuing the company from what otherwise would have been an even grimmer result.

The mainstay lottery division saw its revenue fall 45% to €103m. That decline would have been much worse were it not for the new online version of the Tzoker (Joker) product that the company said continued to rise even after the retail reopening, although it got a wind-assist from a series of jackpot rollovers.

Sports betting revenue was off 55% to €40.4m due to most major sports pressing pause as the pandemic took hold. Live betting now accounts for 49% of betting handle, with the Playtech-powered self-service betting terminals’ share of Q2 wagering rising nearly five points year-on-year to 23.4%.

VLT revenue took the biggest hit, falling 69.3% to €21.8m. The VLTs didn’t return to action until early June but the company says the VLT segment “quickly rebounded to a double-digit growth” rate.

OPAP’s in-house online revenue hit €10m in Q2, a more than fourfold rise from Q2 2019 and more than twice the sum generated in Q1 2020. The online division expects growth to continue post-pandemic thanks to last month’s finalization of the deal to acquire a bigger stake in the Stoiximan Group’s Greek and Cypriot operations.

Jan Karas, who only assumed OPAP’s CEO role in May, praised his company for achieving “cash generation even during the harshest of times.” Karas expects “additional hurdles on the road to recovery,” but expressed confidence that OPAP would meet those challenges as they arose.  

Greece is currently in what everyone desperately hopes is the home stretch of a protracted online gambling regulatory revamp. Last month, the Hellenic Gaming Commission (HGC) issued details on the letters of guarantee that successful online license applicants will have to submit, while opening a public consultation on the rules for storing customer data. Expectations are that the HGC could at long last start issuing licenses before the year is done.

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