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State gambling revenue up 11.3% in first half

State lottery company Szerencsejáték Zrt had revenue of Ft 73 billion in the first half of 2006, 11.3% more than in the same period a year earlier, CEO Gábor Székely announced on Friday.

Szerencsejáték had operating profit of Ft 4.279 billion in the first half. It also had financial profits of Ft 905 million from its Ft 10 billion stock of government securities. In 2005, Szerencsejáték had revenue of Ft 132.957 billion, of which it paid Ft 57 billion into the central budget in the form of corporate tax and contributions. It paid a further Ft 3.5 billion dividend from its after-tax profit of Ft 4.065 billion. This year the company expects to pay a similar amount to the state, Székely said.
Szerencsejáték targets a 7%-10% revenue increase in 2006 and pre-tax profits of Ft 1.5 billion. Most of the profits will be paid as taxes, he said. First-half revenue from scratch-off lottery games rose 60% year-on-year. Revenue from sports betting rose 20%, helped by the FIFA World Cup.
Székely conceded that Szerencsejáték had to push back the date for introducing online gaming because of technical problems, but the company still hopes to launch the games before the end of the year. Szerencsejáték also plans to introduce a bingo-type game in the last months of the year.
Games introduced in the first half of the year generated revenue of Ft 7 billion, and are expected to generated Ft 10 billion-15 billion for the whole year.
Szerencsejáték plans to spend a little more on investments than last year\'s Ft 3 billion, Székely said. The money will go mainly to opening new outlets. Hungarians spent €52 (Ft 14,000) per capita on lottery games last year, two and a half times more than the amount spent in other countries in Central and Eastern Europe, but less than half of the €110-€120 spent per capita in Western Europe, Székely said.