OPAP first-quarter profit up 43.5% - CEO Damian Cope on Q1 2019 Results - Earnings Call Transcript

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Greek Organization of Football Prognostics S.A. (OTCPK:GOFPY) Q1 2019 Earnings Conference Call June 6, 2019 9:00 AM ET

Company Participants

Damian Cope - CEO

Michal Houst - CFO

Conference Call Participants

Kourtesis Iakovos - Piraeus Securities

Draziotis Stamatios - Eurobank Equities

Pease Victoria - Edison

Virendra Chauhan - Alpha Value

Operator

Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for standing by. I’m Gilly, your Chorus Call operator. Welcome and thank you for joining the OPAP Conference Call to Present and Discuss the OPAP S.A.'s First Quarter 2019 Interim Management Statement Conference Call.

All participants will be in a listen-only mode and the conference is being recorded. The presentation will be followed by a question-and-answer session. [Operator Instructions] At this time, I would like to turn the conference over to Mr. Damian Cope, CEO of OPAP S.A. Mr. Cope, please proceed.

Damian Cope

Thank you very much, operator and good morning or good afternoon to everyone. I’m delighted to welcome you to OPAP's Q1 2019 Investor Conference Call. As always, our Deputy CEO and CFO, Michal Houst will start by commenting on the financial picture for the quarter and I will then provide you with an update of our business progress and plans for 2019.

We will then answer any answer any questions you may have. Michal, over to you.

Michal Houst

Thank you, Damian, and good afternoon to everybody. Macro wise real GDP growth for the first quarter stood at 0.9%, the year starting with makes evidence from most already indicated. Tourism has once more been performing strongly although obviously Q1 is the seasonally weakest part of the year. When it comes through leading indicators like economic sentiments, that was rather uninspiring, welcome trended slightly upwards. Finally, on the resources front headlines figures indicated a material decline in both January and February before improving a bit in March.

On our part, we have noted before that the unanticipated growth on both GDP and private consumption depends heavily on a number of options, some of those such as the geometric elections are most probably sorted out in the near future but some other such potential slowdown in use and tariffs have probably altered the business sentiment. In this kind of environment, OPAP’s Q1 2019 figures clearly depicts that our company has been real employment. Furthermore, having built on the solid and upon successful execution of our strategy, we believe that our exceptional performance could continue for the remainder of the year as well.

In more detail, Q1 2019 GGR headed higher for yet another quarter up by 5% reaching €396 million times that being a new multi-year high when it comes exclusively through the first quarter’s performance. More importantly growth came on top of an holiday high base, as OPAP has been able to consistently increasing GGR in 2015.

Moving to NGR. Growth steps up to 5.4% reaching €266.8 million while gross profit from gaming operations rose by similar 5.5%. In our view, consistent growth across our profitability lines boosted our expansion was plan and then our new business growth in material uplift overall profitability figures. EBITDA wise reported figures marked 28% increase reaching €111.6 million in fourth quarter, mostly €10.7 million of one of most related to renewals of legal provisions pertaining to final judgment improvement of agents. More importantly, recurring EBITDA increased by 15.7% demonstrating that set aside revenue growth realized location out of that.

Starting with IP, the expenses figure declined by 41% during the course of the quarter as a result of the conclusion of net debt, conclusion of the technology confirmation project. Note that cost benefit OPAP is now considerably more flexible and independent when it comes to technology tangible evidence in the price of various initiatives.

 

We expected savings will continue for yet another quarter while full-year effect being north of 15%. On the flip side, marketing expense increased mildly to €14.8 million while personnel costs rose to €19.8 million or 3.6% on Q-on-Q basis. Most of those have been moving in line with first lines and come as a result of further expansion in different fields. We would expect those to stabilize because of the coming quarters. Below the EBITDA lines, net profit curve accelerated further reaching 43.5% despite higher D&A of €27.3 million.

On an adjusted item basis net profit reached €49.8 million up by 25% year-on-year. Turning to our investments, cash outflow from investing activities stood at low €3 million for the quarter. Although this number should grow through the end of the year reaching around €30 million, we once more point out that our investment program is close to conclusion and then our normalized CapEx from 2021 seen lower than €20 million on annual basis.

As stated before, all the aforementioned figures do not include the second part of the deal which is subject to clearance by the competitional authorities. Now profitability growth together limit this CapEx led our cash balance to increase of €240 million from €191 million at the end of the year which together have growth of €651 million net debt position of €400.5 million and net debt-to-EBITDA ratio of 1.1 times. Dividend wise we will distribute an additional $0.60 per share on top of the already distributed $0.10 in October, although introducing the ability of fully option paid dividend thus allowing for shareholders to increase their holdings before work option.

We generally believe that this new option is generating our shareholders option and we feel that our proposal was vindicated by 99% approval rate in our recent AGM. The election period will largely instantiate of June until 11 of July while further details will be published in the following days on our webpage. When it comes to future returns to shareholders we remain committed calling for the distribution of the bulk of the free cash flow to shareholders.

With regards to our segment performance, closing the substantial turnaround of the fourth quarter, our lottery business stayed on positive ground by 1.6% taking into account that our realty machines number was doubled versus Q1 last year, we believe this kind of recommends substantial achievement and comes as a result of both the reflection of our network and outside forming as well as the contribution of debt while reached materially our overall given numbers.

We feel that this stable to slight increase in turn most probably versus in the near future as well. We are excited with our quarterly performance despite the 5% drop in our revenue figures. It excluded as a result of natural attrition of gaming despite a decline, still contribute materially and profitably to our group figures.

On speaking on the other hand, in negative sense and we are happy to say that this trend is consisting in the second quarter of the year though. The result of last year’s decline of the increased contribution OPAP’s and material growth in like. Both of those indicate that our operating is now much more in line with our side as well as international lines. Note that although notably reporting on our revenue lines Stoiximan business where we carried out almost 37% that was extremely low as well demonstrating solid revenue growth in the Greek business with the growth of around more than 30%.

I will also provide $0.12 downwards if revenues being 10.8% lower year-on-year as a result of a moderate drop in sales and higher decline. We believe that the aforementioned decline rates is indicative of future having taken set of actions to earnings of future periods of customers. Q2 is considerably better and as such we don’t think that full-year performance will be much from last year’s numbers.

 

Our revenues for the quarter set a new record of €69 million, our KPI calling for the performance of the machines operational for cost of the quarter stood at €41 versus €47 in Q4 which is of course already seasonally stronger. Gaming growth continued outperformance versus OPAP standing now at average level that is bringing sustainable returns for the period. With that, I’m handing over to Damian.

Damian Cope

Thank you, Michal. As you’ve already highlighted, we continued the positive momentum we saw at the end of 2018 and have enjoyed a good start for 2019. I’d just like to take you through some of the most important elements of our quarterly update. Starting first on Slide 15 of the presentation deck with our retail network.

We continued on from our busy 2018 program of new shop openings with a further 147 shops opened in Q1 reaching a total of more than 650 new shops since January 2018. As last year, the size and quality of these new shops are materially better than the estate's average with an average area now at 128 square meters compared to the estate's average of 79 square meters. Largest spaces combined with improved location, more screens or video rolls together with the efforts of our agents are bringing a comparable improvement in performance of these new shops of over 20% and in some cases much higher.

In addition, we continue to implement our Retail Excellence 2020 program which aims to optimize the network to evolve our customer proposition experience to leverage digital technologies and further develop and train our agents.

Overall in Q1, our efforts led to an increase in the average revenue per shop approaching 10% while average commission agent also increased by around 4.4% year-on-year.

Turning now to our Play Games VLT business on Slide 16 where we recorded another strong quarter in Q1. After the seasonally strongest Q4, we saw overall Q1 GGR broadly in line with this period and we see similar trends in Q2 so far. As you can see on Slide 17, we continue to record a steady increase in registrations and more importantly our average monthly active customers were above 100,000, the highest quarter so far. Customer spend remains consistent at around €30 per visit. In terms of machine distribution, we finished Q1 with 364 gaming halls operational and machines and an additional 1955 shops.

In April, we also successfully completed the full estate introduction of the VLT Jackpot feature, the few details of which have been shared on Slide 18. The Jackpot allows any player on any game on any machine to have the chance to win various Jackpot prizes up to a maximum of €100,000 from a single spin. The new Jackpot has been warmly welcomed by our agents, partners and customers for the well over 5000 prizes won so far totaling over €3 million including six winners of over €50,000 from the gold prize. We believe that this VLT Jackpot is another means by which our Play Games VLT business clearly differentiates us from the remaining illegal gaming competition.

In terms of the ongoing rollout, as of today we have 20,091 of the VLTs installed which leaves just over 4,900 of the full rollout remaining. This is clearly a small increase from the time of our last call. And this is primarily as we've been impacted by recent legal decision which I will summarize briefly. On the 2nd of April, the Council of State issued a ruling to note the Hellenic Gaming Commission's decision of October 2016 which sets out the VLT’s regulation.

This court ruling is purely procedural deeming that this regulation should have been originally issued through a presidential decree. The court did not make any judicial assessment of the substantive ground invoked by the applicants or of the VLTs regulation itself. However continues to operate the existing VLT network normally only the rollout of any additional VLT machines is currently on hold.

 

For the avoidance of doubt, this decision does not affect the legislative framework and exclusive concession agreement under which OPAP has exclusive right to operate VLTs until 2035. As you know OPAP has to install the remaining VLTs by the end of 2019 based on the applicable legislative framework and our contractual obligations. At the moment, we are continuing all of the necessary activities related to the planning of our rollout such as the selection of the appropriate locations to host play stores and negotiating with candidate gaming hall agents and operators.

It's also worth remembering that the existing Play Games VLT business has created more than 3000 jobs attracted over €60 million of investment from investors and entrepreneurs and already generate annually well over €100 million in tax revenues for the Hellenic Republic. So this may be in everyone's interest that this situation will be successfully resolved.

Setting now to our Betting segment and I remember well that there was some questions on our last call around our performance specifically sports betting. In Slide 19, I wanted to highlight some of the performance improvements that we've seen in Q1 despite some unfavorable sporting results that have impacted some other operators in the industry. I'm pleased to say that after a period of time, we've managed to address the negative trend.

This is important to the better quality of the new shops we've opened but also as we've improved our offering to make it more modern and relevant to our clients. SSBTs have also been a positive factor. Having taken the decision to strategically invest in the SSBTs back in 2017, our thinking was to offer a personalized experience that would also be more attractive to younger generations and more suitable for my betting.

Considering that almost 30% of our live wages took place through SSBT in Q1, we feel that we're making good progress in this direction. Overall, SSBT’s now account for about 15% of our total sports betting turnover and the experience from our operations in Cyprus indicates that that potential could be materially higher. Within the rest of the betting category, we saw a decline in both vessels and horseracing, the latter was primarily due to the suspension of Greek racing from December until May. However thanks to the new legal framework approved in late April Greek racing has restarted and in conjunction with the entire racing industry, we've recently kicked off a relaunch plan to reenergize our horseracing business both across our shop network and thus have more couple of park venue.

Online remains a strategically important area of focus and on Slide 20, we provide updates on both elements of our dual strategy. OPAP’s own online sports betting is growing steadily, now representing approximately 9% of total sports betting turnover and the closer to 2% of our total sports betting GGR.

At the end of Q1, we also launched the first ever lottery product online in Greece, Joker. Offline, we estimate we have between 3 million and 4 million players per year and we believe that the ability to play online or via our new path will appeal to both regular and less frequent customers. After just a couple of months trading, we already see that our online turnover is around 2% of the total volume, given the game's appeal as well as the fact that convenience should drive frequency and penetration, we believe that turnover should further grow in line with international benchmarks.

You also take particular satisfaction that a significant part of the relevant software development took place from within OPAP’s own in-house technology team. Today across all OPAP’s online activities, we’ve so far registered over 75,000 customers in 2019 with an encouraging number of customers already using both sports betting and Joker products. Within this total, we recruited a number of customers via agents within our retail network. And it’s just worth reminding you that each of these agents received the same commission for the relevant revenues generated by each customer as if they were playing in the agents shop.

 

In relation to our investment in Stoiximan, you’re already be aware that our participation in Stoiximan Group stands at 36.75%, same time we are hopeful that the second part of the transaction which is expected to increase our share of the Greek and Cyprus operations to 69% will be granted the necessary approvals in the near future. In the meantime, we're pleased to report a positive quarter for Stoiximan with Q1 GGR expenses exceeding €50 million an overall growth of 36%. We continue to see good growth in Q2 across all of the operating countries and earlier in Q2, licensed operations also started in Portugal.

On new ventures and turning to Slide 21, our targeted effort to stop offering non-gaming services through all tourist subsidiaries is on track. Our network of certified agents that offer tourist services now stands at almost 2,600 shops. While the appeal of our bill payments is steadily growing with the best agencies doing several hundreds of transactions per month.

Recently, we also launched our remittances service which allows for domestic cash transfers in a seamless and convenient way through the OPAP’s retail network, the largest in Greece. Note that on top of the direct benefit through our transactions, certain products such as tickets already seeing an encouraging like-to-like uplift in that figures.

Going forward the number of certified agents should further increase whereas we’ve also launched in the second half of the year, our TORO mobile app that allow for a number of different services that will facilitate the everyday life of our customers.

Finally I'd just like to provide a little information on our well-known and highly regarded CSR program on Slide 22. Of particular note is the ongoing progress we have made in the renovation of the two major children's hospitals here in Athens. This was a program that was started back in 2014, we have now successfully completed 64% of the renovation and we expect to complete the full renovation in both hospitals in the next couple of years.

We were additionally honored to be joined last week by the President of the Hellenic Republic for the inauguration of the latest renovation. As a result of all of our various activities, we’re now recognized as the number one company in Greece in terms of CSR acknowledgement and have achieved the highest level of CSR awareness since 2014. With that, I'm concluding my opening statement and Michal and I are now ready to answer any questions you might have. Thank you for your patience and your attention.

Question-and-Answer Session

Operator

Ladies and gentlemen, at this time we will begin the question-and-answer session. [Operator Instructions] The first question is from the line of Kourtesis Iakovos with Piraeus Securities. Please go ahead.

Kourtesis Iakovos

Hi, good afternoon gentlemen. Following the launch of the new Jackpot feature as of April, would you say that -- would you provide us with a trading update in terms of net drop per VLT per day. Would you see higher levels in second quarter compared to the trend noticed in the first quarter. Second question has to do with the decision of the Council of State. As far as I understand it seems like a typical issue. However you decided to temporary freeze the installment of the remaining machines, is there any timeframes specific timeframe in which you would expect the issue to be resolved supposed to be in summer before the elections or something like this. And that will be it.

Damian Cope

Okay. Thank you. Just on the Jackpot, we said we'd give ourselves sort of two or three months to properly measure the performance and the impact of jackpots. So we'll certainly have an update for that on that for you in September. It’s fair to say as I mentioned earlier, it's a very interesting talking point for agents and customers alike and definitely add something extra to the enjoyment of our players. So like I say give us a couple more months of trading and we'll let you know in September. On the Council of State, you’re absolutely right. As you describe it a typical issue, the timeframe is clearly not in our hands but as I mentioned before it's in everybody's interest to get this resolved relatively quickly. So there's probably not much more I can say.

 

Kourtesis Iakovos

Okay. Thank you very much.

Operator

Our next question is from the line of Draziotis Stamatios with Eurobank Equities. Please go ahead.

Draziotis Stamatios

Yes, hi. A few questions to ask if I may please. First two relates to the operations and the third one has to do with the follow up on regulation. Just on your core betting game Stoiximan, so the conclusion basically is up these switched to positive growth mainly because of the actions that you took i.e. asset and digital, my question basically has to do with digital. So have you actually seen a significant pick up in the trading performance of your online sports book relative to the start back in October.

How should we interpret the events over the negative channel Stoiximan simply because the game has reached the trough. So that's the first question. And second question about operations relates to VLTs, just wondering in the same quarter last year you had about 10,000 machines fully operational since day one of 2018 which had then generated daily net drop of 46 in Q1 2018. Could you tell us what the performance of those machines was in terms of GGR per day in the first quarter of 2019 please. So these are the operational questions I think I'd better let you respond before I move on to the last question.

Damian Cope

Okay. Thank you very much. I'll take the first one. And maybe I will see if we can give you an answer on the second one. On betting, I think we've sort of touched on it before and it's been pretty obvious in our numbers that we have had a steady negative trend in sports betting in our shops for a period of time and a number of reasons for that, not least the fact that the online market has also seen significant growth overall. So as a product, I think it's fair to say and this is not unique to Greece, sports betting is still incredibly attractive in many, many, many markets. And overall sports betting, we see growing as a product irrespective of channels. What is particularly pleasing is you think about the investments we've made over the last few years, it’s not just about SSBTs. We've invested a lot of time in improving the quality of our shops.

If you just think of a typical customer, who is now watching a game on a bigger, better screen in a better shop using modern technology like SSBT naturally we would hope to see some kind of response. And so far we've seen it. I would also say there's a lot of hard work that's gone on from our sports and trading team doing a lot of small things if you like below the radar in terms of improving our communications and coupons and messaging in the shop.

So it's a combination of factors. You can't just point to SSBTs but I just wanted to highlight because it was a specific topic from the last call and again so far in Q2, we're similarly pleased with the progress. Just touching on what you mentioned online, I gave you a couple of statistics on online contribution within both turnover and GGR, clearly the GGR contribution is lower than turnover because the margin online like all online businesses is lower than our retail business.

But we see online sports business growing steadily. We're pleased so far, we want to do more. We will do more. And it’s part of the overall sports betting method. So we'll look again where we get to September and hopefully round the chance to include discussion of Stoiximan transaction, if it gets concluded by then. But overall, I think it was just what everybody recognizing that sports betting is very much back within itself.

Draziotis Stamatios

Okay. So just a follow-up on that, so from what you’re saying my understanding is that you actually think that these reverse or positive trend is in a sense sustainable because the estate is constantly improving, digital should ramp up in the coming, more in the coming -- in the coming quarters. Macro hopefully will do its part hopefully. So is this assumption to make?

 

Damian Cope

I think yes, there are a number of positives in there. Again we touched before on previous calls about how we want to change the way that we broadcast content into our shops as well. So we believe that a number of factors that will ensure that, we maintain sports betting as a significant part of our business overall.

Draziotis Stamatios

Okay. Thank you. And on VLTs?

Michal Houst

So on the VLTs, basically I think it works to let's say start looking considerable VLTs is little bit more matured business. And also we are at the end of operations. You can see that we have over 20,000 machines rolled out which is 80% of these data, target is there. So pretty matured footprint, let’s say. So from that point of view, what I think we are happy about it that let’s say again the quarter Q1 was higher than Q4 last year, we found some experience increased in machines on the quarter but I think it’s quite important and yes the machines are operating more than they are performing better, they are performing closer to €50 and to €40, the average €41. What is for us more crucial is that overall as we mentioned in this speech, the overall profitability of revenues and performance of revenues be it old one and new one is gradually improving, so this is our aim that the operations to profitable business. And the whole business should be profitable for all the counterpart. So this is quite crucial when we see a very good track and very good let's say performance on our business. So given that the typical maturing deposit it is 12 months but I think we see very good reasonably good sense on that.

Draziotis Stamatios

Okay. Thank you. And on regulation. Just following up on this decision by the Greek State Council. So I was just wondering how can be sure, is it just a case of the Gambling Commission simply submitting to the President, the regulation for approval and if this is a case, has there been any development or action to the best of your knowledge by the Hellenic Gambling Commission to deal with the matter since the decision was made public in April?

Damian Cope

They're clearly well aware of the situation. They are already taking steps. I can't predict what legal route they will take. That is down to them. But there's certainly a lot of efforts going on to try and resolve this situation because they're well aware as I mentioned before that it's in everybody's interest to resolve them.

Draziotis Stamatios

Okay. If I may follow-up a bit on the issues again, so that was I think you mentioned it also this just online gambling law which was submitted recently to the European Commission which as far as I understand it includes an amendment which basically says out in order for a change in the law to come into effect, the approval by the Finance Minister will suffice. So there would be no need anymore for ratification by the President. So the question here is, if this draft law were to be approved by then European Commission, would it actually apply for all the regulation including the relevant provisions for VLTs or would we still need the formal ratification by the President for the all pieces of legislation including VLTs?

Damian Cope

No, I mean online is completely different, it's a completely different situation. I would just add on the Council of State decision. It's already been published actually, the ACC has already formed a task force back in April to start work on resolving this issue. So we're confident that it will get resolved. But it’s completely separate to the online draft legislation which kind of whole separate set of considerations and related factors.

Draziotis Stamatios

Okay. That’s clear. Thank you so much.

Operator

The next question is from the line of Pease Victoria with Edison. Please go ahead.

 

Pease Victoria

Good afternoon gentlemen. Just a few questions. Just following up on online regulation question. See if you had any latest thoughts on that and I was wondering if you could give some idea of the IFRS 16 breakdown in your financials because the rentals are down but the depreciation levels might be helpful and if you had any thoughts on these scrip take up. And just finally your gross margins on your sports book. I know you said in the last quarter they've been quite strong in February and I'm just wondering how the quarter panned out and what they're looking like now? Thanks.

Damian Cope

Hi Victoria. Okay. Starting with online legislation, I'm not sure there's much more to say really. I mean the process is underway and it's not in our hands. Clearly we still hope for a resolution of the current situation. I don’t think the new election which is going to be taking place on the 7th of July will necessarily help that table. But you never know. So we would like a resolution sort of sooner rather than later if we count but it’s out of our hands and I would jump to your fourth point which was gross win margin and I’ll let Michal having to points two and three.

Yes, we saw a good performance in Q1 but I would say our gross margin was slightly lower but that was simply because we're seeing a much higher proportion of live betting which is naturally lower margin. But overall I must say having seen the results of some of the other European operators sort of over the last month or so, we don't seem to have been as badly affected as some of they have by the sporting results that they were referring to. I know some has to do with U.K. and Irish racing but as a general observation, we felt like we had a better period.

Michal Houst

And then on the IFRS and also as we stating in the press release there was €2.1 million, I would say positive impact in EBITDA but there was increased depreciation and amortization in income, it’s mostly impacted 300,000 stay positive on the net income here but it’s irrelevant basically. But on EBITDA line it was around €2 million. Our description, what can we say on that, I mean it’s up to the shareholders and the shareholders had fee on 12th of July, you cannot predict what the shareholders will do.

Pease Victoria

Okay, thanks.

Operator

The next question is from the line of Chauhan Virendra with Alpha Value. Please go ahead.

Virendra Chauhan

Hi everyone. Virendra Chauhan from Alpha Value. And I have one question on the EBITDA margin followed by a couple of questions on the VLT. So firstly on the EBITDA margin front, so apart from IT savings that you’ve done as well as the

€10 million or €11 million impact from the litigation -- in litigation impact, do we have anything as driving because just based on my rough calculation, it does seem that there's been a higher drip down of your GGR to the EBITDA level. So I mean any further color on that, that would be question one?

Michal Houst

Materially 100% certainly question. But let’s say if there is not just the…

Virendra Chauhan

I’m saying is that the incremental revenue, it does seem to have a much higher margin profile than what OPAP has historically reported? So anything which did impact that?

Michal Houst

Let's say you're exactly correct. Let’s say, so if you look into that. So I think that typically speaking, if you're looking into the GGR growth let’s say it. You would not see big difference in there, so the growth in GGR looks 5% and growth in NGR was 5.4%, and let’s say the gross profit from gaming operation is 5.5% growth. There is not big deviation in that, so what basically is real variation is the OpEx containment, including this one-off item and also this does not repeat but let’s say on the OpEx side, I think we are in the good trend as I mentioned in the speech. Say on the IPV, we let’s say we expect this to continue on this 15% improvement on the IT costs.

 

On the marketing costs, our first quarter was bit higher than last year but full-year we expect it will be relatively the same as last year. And also it would be improving a bit. And then on the other costs, let's say we would see some probably better cost, let’s say some cost savings again. But let's say, so we have revenue growth and we have let’s say on the gross margin I don't think there's big difference, there is slight improvement on the OpEx, we have basically decent improvement and that's why EBITDA margin is basically growing quite positive than the revenues.

Virendra Chauhan

Okay, perfect, perfect. So thank you. And I have a question on the VLT side. So the VLT addition do seem to have slowed down compared to the past and I’m aware that the ruling did come out on April but then if I just look at Q1 numbers, were you anticipating that ruling and did it slowed down because what I see is like this compared to your historical base, the addition of VLTs in this quarter was relatively lesser. So anything driving that. Or are you finding it much more difficult to get the new locations like attractive new locations? Is this a sign of that?

Damian Cope

Yes. It's a good question. I'm not sure if you were on our previous call because it came up then and we talked about it effectively saying as we get through the rollout clearly we want to really optimize the location of our final machines. In lots of cities and a lot of towns, we already have a significant allocation of machines, so we're just sort of making sure that we're making the right decisions. When you start with no machines, it's easier to start rolling them out but it was sort of a natural thing. We certainly weren't anticipating the decision of the Council of State if that's what you mentioned in your question. And as I mentioned before reiterate we haven't stopped all of the planning and all of the preparations as soon as we are free to continue, we'll be up again with the remaining 4,900 machines.

Michal Houst

And there is one more, let’s say in fact that this is typically speaking to bit seasonal. So because Q4 December is the strongest month of the year, we are typically trying to accelerate in the Q4 anything that is in the pipeline, the Q1 is little bit slower. So we have seen this same amount. So in 2017 at the end of the let’s say last quarter we have 5000 machines in Q1, it is 1500. So it was pretty similar. So combined to what Damian said, let's say that, we try to accelerate to open in the prime season, let's say and then we are little bit generally little bit typically for us.

Virendra Chauhan

Perfect. And just one last final question on VLTs. So the combination of finding it difficult to find more attractive locations as well as the new ruling which has come on in April. Does that mean you still before ending the year with 25,000 machines or should we look at it in some other way?

Michal Houst

I don't think I’d say we were finding it difficult, I just said we wanted to make sure that we're optimizing the relevant locations. And again as I said before, our intention is to complete the rollout by the end of the year and as soon as we get the clarification that we want then we'll be we'll be up again. So that's very much our intention still.

Virendra Chauhan

Okay, thank you very much. Thank you. And that will be all from my end.

Operator

The next question is from the line of [Indiscernible] Securities. Please go ahead.

Unidentified Conference Call Participant

Yes, hi from my side. Just two questions from me. The first one has to do with additional games migrating online after Joker, Virtual and KINO, you have an update on the timeline there. And the second refers to the script dividend whether the majority shareholder intense to take up option or do you have any indication from that side? Thank you.

 

Damian Cope

I will take the first and then Michal can have the second. Yes, we certainly hope to add additional games online. To be honest we've had a busy period launching Joker, we still think there's a long way to go in Joker. But we hope to add more games either later this year or early 2020 and assuming the new online game in that we would more than likely participate with any additional games that were made available on that lines as well.

Unidentified Conference Call Participant

Thank you.

Michal Houst

And then on the script, let’s say we need to have some support for the shareholder for the whole program and that was one of the priority we see as well as we indicated fastest through the approval of the Capital Markets Commission. So I think most probably they will participate at least to the shares program or we cannot predict how much they will participate. But they are supportive for the program.

Unidentified Conference Call Participant

Okay, thank you very much.

Michal Houst

Thank you.

Operator

[Operator Instructions] Ladies and gentlemen, there are no further questions at this time. I will now turn the conference over to Mr. Cope for any closing comments. Thank you.

Damian Cope

Thank you very much for you time everybody today and look forward to talking to you again soon. Thanks very much. Bye-bye.

Operator

Ladies and gentlemen, the conference is now concluded and you may disconnect your telephone. Thank you for calling and have a pleasant evening.

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