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Slot machine maker IGT signals interest in US sports betting

IGT, the world’s dominant slot-machine manufacturer, is ready to jump into the promising sports-wagering business in the United States.

Now that the Supreme Court has struck down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, states will be able to establish their own sports-betting systems.

Tuesday’s first-quarter IGT earnings call left little doubt that the London-based company would be a player in providing technology for sports betting, competing head to head with Las Vegas-based rival Scientific Games.

“Our offering is in pretty good shape,” IGT CEO Marco Sala said in a call with investors Tuesday.

He noted that IGT already has an end-to-end sports betting system in place in Italy and that its platform includes distribution and mobile solutions that have been tested and licensed in the United States. IGT developed the platform and system used by MGM Resorts International properties and that company has indicated it would explore the prospects for expansion in Michigan, Mississippi, Massachusetts and Maryland.

“The timing and size of sports betting in the United States is an open question,” Sala said, noting that IGT has submitted the only bid to provide sports betting in Rhode Island through the state-operated lottery.

Most of IGT’s sports-betting strategies will emanate from Las Vegas.

The company managed more than $12 billion in sports bets in 2017.

With questions of sports betting volume, timing and market share still unanswered, IGT didn’t change its projected cash flow outlook of between $1.7 billion and $1.78 billion for the year.

The company capitalized on shipping slot machine units to MGM Cotai, which opened in the first quarter, and expects to duplicate that with the opening of MGM Springfield in Massachusetts in the third quarter of this year.

Adjusting for fluctuations in currency exchanges, IGT reported net income of $251 million, or 15 cents a share, on revenue of $1.21 billion for the quarter that ended March 31. That compares with net income of $371 million, 29 cents a share, on revenue of $1.15 billion for the same quarter a year earlier.

The company shipped 3,716 gaming machine units during the quarter compared with 3,944 units in the same period a year earlier. New and expansion unit sales were down from 1,157 to 1,024 on fewer openings. While there is continued growth in replacement units to casino customers, there was an overall decline due to fewer sales of video lottery terminals in Canada and Oregon.

IGT is paying a 20-cent-per-share dividend on June 19 to shareholders of record on June 5.

IGT shares closed down $1.35, 4.5 percent, to $28.46 a share on heavy trading Tuesday. After hours, the stock rebounded by 22 cents, 0.8 percent, to $28.68.

Contact Richard N. Velotta at rvelotta@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3893. Follow @RickVelotta on Twitter.

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