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ATHENS, March 29 (Reuters) - Greece's OPAP, Europe's fourth-biggest betting firm, posted on Wednesday a 19.2 percent drop in fourth-quarter core profit, hurt by an austerity tax.
OPAP, which was fully privatised in 2013, currently offers sports betting and lotteries through a network of about 5,750 outlets in Greece and Cyprus.
Profitability has been hit by a retroactive tax hike on gaming revenue that OPAP has generated since the start of last year. Greece raised taxation on OPAP's revenue by 5 percentage points to 35 percent as part of an international bailout, the third since 2010.
Core profit - earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) - dropped to 83.7 million euros ($90 million) from 103.6 million euros in the fourth quarter of 2015.
Net profit rose 6.7 percent to 55.1 million euros, helped by the absence of a one-off impairment that was booked in the last quarter of 2015.
OPAP will pay a dividend of 0.72 euro a share, up from 0.40 euro on 2015 results.
Gross gaming revenue dropped 0.5 percent to 399.6 million euros, mainly due a weaker performance of its lottery business.
OPAP revived in November its plans to launch 16,500 video lottery terminals (VLTs) after Greece's gaming commission approved new, less rigid rules.
The company said the new business was launched in January and already operated 1,274 machines.
$1 = 0.9295 euros Reporting by Angeliki Koutantou; Editing by Mark Potter