March 27, 2018 / 3:40 PM / 23 days ago

UPDATE 1-OPAP Q4 profit plunges, hurt by new games costs

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ATHENS, March 27 (Reuters) - Greece-based OPAP on Tuesday posted a 69 percent drop in fourth-quarter net profit, hurt by costs related to its video lottery business.

OPAP, Europe’s fifth-biggest betting firm by revenue, said net profit in the October-to-December period was 17.2 million euros ($21.31 million), down from 55.1 million euros in the same period in 2016.

OPAP, which was sold by the state in 2013, launched a new business for video lottery terminals last year. It said it operated 10,007 terminals at the end of December.

This helped boost gaming revenue, which rose 2.5 percent to 409.7 million euros but it also meant higher operating costs.

Total operating expenses rose 10.4 percent in the final quarter of 2017 to 53.17 million euros.

A one-off expense of 22.8 million euros related to a change of the amortisation method for the video lottery licence also weighed on results.

OPAP has already paid out 0.80 euros a share to shareholders. On Tuesday, it said it will pay a further 0.30 euros a share, bringing the total dividend payout for 2017 to 1.1 euros a share.

It had paid 0.72 euros a share on 2016 profit.

OPAP, which is also upgrading its core gaming platforms, said online sports betting is expected to resume before the summer World Cup. ($1 = 0.8072 euros) (Reporting by Angeliki Koutantou, editing by David Evans)

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