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Greek gaming monopoly OPAP reports sharp profit drop

A view of the OPAP building, Greece's state lottery monopoly in Athens on September 21, 2012. OPAP announced a 73.9-percent drop in net profits for the first half of 2013, shortly after a major stake in the company was sold to foreign investors.

Greece's gaming monopoly OPAP announced Thursday a 73.9-percent drop in net profits for the first half of 2013, shortly after a major stake in the company was sold to foreign investors.

OPAP said net profits fell to 67.3 million euros ($89 million) from 258 million euros in the same period in 2012.

Sales fell 15.1 percent to 1.744 billion euros -- from 2.055 billion euros previously -- mostly because of the severe economic downturn and one-off factors that hit first-quarter results, the bank said.

In July, Greece's state privatisation agency said it had signed the papers to sell a 33-percent stake of OPAP to Greco-Czech consortium Emma Delta for 652 million euros, a deal first announced in May.

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OPAP, which was among the most lucrative companies up for privatisation, has a state concession for the exclusive right to operate 13 games of chance until October 2030, and a ten-year license for the operation of 50,000 video lottery terminals.

In the January-June period, sports bets declined by 26.9 percent to 605.9 million euros while numbers games fell by 7.1 percent to 1.138 billion euros.

In return for two EU-IMF bailout deals, Greece has pledged to raise 9.5 billion euros in asset sales by 2016, a target originally set at 50 billion euros.

But the privatisation drive is far behind schedule and suffered a further blow in June, after Russia's Gazprom suddenly withdrew plans to buy Greece's state gas operator DEPA.

As a result, Athens revised downwards its estimated asset sales for this year, now expecting to raise 1.6 billion euros instead of 2.6 billion euros.