Turkey to Start Sale of Lottery in October, Unakitan Says

Turkey will invite bids next month for a license to run the national lottery, Finance Minister Kemal Unakitan said.

Unakitan announced the plan at a press conference in Ankara today, without giving further details. Companies including Athens-based Intralot SA (INLOT) and Turkey's Koc Holding AS (KCHOL) have said they may bid.

Turkey is selling off assets to reduce debt and finance spending plans, offsetting the effects of the credit crunch that's making it harder for the country to borrow abroad. The $660 billion economy also needs investment to balance a current-account gap swollen by higher oil prices.

The country is selling a 10-year license to operate the lottery. The winner will retain 17 percent of revenue after sales and gambling taxes, according to officials at the state asset sales agency. The 17 percent share would have been worth about 150 million liras ($123 million) in 2007, according to Bloomberg calculations.

Intralot, the world's second-biggest gambling services operator, said on Sept. 1 it was interested in bidding for Milli Piyango. Intralot already runs sports betting in Turkey in partnership with the country's biggest mobile phone company Turkcell Iletisim Hizmetleri AS. (TCELL)

Koc Holding AS, Turkey's biggest company, may bid for the license in partnership with Greece's Opap SA (OPAP), Milliyet newspaper said on July 22. Camelot Group Plc, which holds the concession to run the UK's national lottery, and Scientific Games Corp. (SGMS) may also bid, the newspaper said.

Other possible bidders include Essnet AB, Tatts Group Ltd. (TTS), GTECH Holdings Corp., Lottomatica SpA, Austrian Lotteries and Sisal SpA, Milliyet said.

The Ankara-based Milli Piyango Idaresi reported 2007 net income of 332 million liras from gross sales of 1.2 billion liras, according to Turkey's Treasury. It distributed 649 million liras in prize money, the Treasury said in a report on Aug. 28.

The lottery sells tickets through a network of computerized sales machines in grocers and convenience stores across the country and through official sellers who tour restaurants and bars in the evenings inviting customers to take a gamble on the weekend draw.

To contact the reporter on this story: Steve Bryant in Ankara at sbryant5@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Chris Kirkham at ckirkham@bloomberg.net.

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