ATHENS, March 30 (Reuters) - Greece's OPAP, Europe's fourth-biggest betting firm, will conclude the roll-out of a new business of video lottery terminals (VLTs) next year, it said on Thursday.
OPAP revived in November its plans to launch 16,500 terminals, a catalyst for its future growth, after Greece's gaming commission approved new, less rigid rules. The company launched the new business in January and already operates 1,274 machines.
In a conference call presenting 2016 results, Chief Executive Officer Damian Cope said that OPAP will continue the rollout of the machines until the middle of next year and that 2019 will be the first full year of operation.
OPAP, which was fully privatised in 2013, currently offers sports betting and lotteries through a network of about 5,750 outlets in Greece and Cyprus via a revenue-sharing scheme with agents.
On Wednesday, it posted a 19.2 percent drop in fourth-quarter core profit, hurt by an austerity tax.
The company has been investing in new products and the upgrade of its outlets and issued a 200 million euro bond this month to help cover the cost.
Cope said that the majority of its agents have agreed to a new commission scheme for 2017-2021 which will enable OPAP to offer "a more flexible and competitive sports offering". (Reporting by Angeliki Koutantou, editing by David Evans)