Eye on Europe - Jan. 19, 2006

19 January 2006

German Results -- The members of the Deutschen Lotto-und Totoblock (DLTB), a cooperation of all the 16 German state lotto and toto companies, reportedly saw a further fall in turnover in 2005. According to German business newspaper Handelsblatt, turnover for the Block fell from 8.4 billion euro in 2004 to 8.1 billion euro in 2005, a drop of 4 percent. Turnover has dropped every year since 2002. This is in strong contrast with the results of Germany's commercial operator, Betandwin, which reported turnover of 254 million euros for the third quarter of 2005--a 165 percent improvement compared to the third quarter of 2004. Oddset, a part of the German Block, is one of the six official suppliers of the FIFA World Cup in Germany. Above that, a percentage of the profit of the Block goes to the organization of the WC Football. But with those financial results, it seems there will be a loss for the organization. The DLTB, a member of the European Lotteries, was founded in 1955. The Block started with Internet betting in 2000.

Carrying an Arena -- Another EL member, joint stock company Sazka A.S., which likes to advertise itself as the largest operator of betting games, number games and instant lotteries in the Czech Republic, is also in a dip. In 2004, overall revenues of Sazka approached 8.5 billion CZK (296 million euros), the pre-tax profit was more than 1.38 billion CZK (48 million euros) and the after-tax profit reached 1.32 billion CZK (46 million euros). Sazka had a heavy burden to carry in 2004 due to its obligation to construct the 18,000-seat Sazka Arena in Prague 8, which hosted the 2004 World Ice Hockey Championship and cost nearly 9 billion CZK (302 million euros). The odds betting market in the Czech Republic was an estimated 10-11 billion CZK in 2005; it was 10.6 billion CZK (369 million euros) in 2004. Analysts expect a lower total turnover for 2005.

A Boost from Euro Millions -- The French National lottery, La Fran├žaise des Jeux, showed a growth of 4.3 percent to 8.9 billion euros in 2005; 77 percent of this growth can be attributed to the Euro Millions multinational lottery. With seven new partners, Euro Millions sales reached 869 million euros during this first full year of operation. Another major factor was the extension of the distribution network through 1,200 new online outlets installed in 2005. Loto sales for the National Lottery were 1.48 billion euros. The aggregated sales of the two games, Loto and Euro Millions, achieved a 10.8 percent growth. In contrast, the game Rapido has seen a slowdown in its development with a sales increase of only 1.9 percent. Sports betting generated improved turnover of 283 million euros (compared to 221 million euros in 2004), which was driven by the success of Loto Foot 7&15 and the changes made to Cote & Match with its 2/2 new formula and the launch of single bets. Instant games sales represented 3.5 billion euros and a 1.5 percent growth. Sales through multimedia channels (Loto, Euro Millions, instant games and sports betting) also continue to develop and brought in 68 million euros (compared to 29 million euros in 2004), which accounts for 0.8 percent of the company's overall turnover.

Shares Rising -- Shares in the new U.S./Italy Lottomatica combination rose a further 5.49 percent Tuesday in Milan to close at 34.22 euros. They were boosted, in particular, by Euromobiliare's decision to raise its recommendation on them from "reduce" to "accumulate," with a target price of 34.5 euros, in response to the news that Lottomatica is to acquire U.S. rival GTECH for 4 billion euros. Investors were also heartened by Lottomatica's announcement that the entity resulting from the merger with GTECH can look forward to a 2007 EBITDA of 800 million euros and turnover of 2 billion euros.