UPDATE 1-Greece's OPAP core profit jumps on World Cup, cost cuts

* Q2 EBITDA jumps 50 percent to 68.6 million euros

* Results boosted by World Cup, helped by cost cutting

* Sales rise 8 percent to 947.3 mln euros (Add sales, details)

ATHENS, Aug 27 (Reuters) - Greece’s OPAP, Europe’s second-largest gambling firm by market value, reported a bigger-than-expected rise in second-quarter core profit, boosted by the World Cup soccer tournament and cost cutting.

Core profit, or earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA), rose 50 percent year-on-year to 68.6 million euros ($90.6 million), beating the average forecast of 61.8 million in a Reuters poll of analysts.

A six-year, austerity-induced recession at home and a hefty levy slapped on gross revenue last year has hit OPAP, which offers lotteries and sports betting in Greece and Cyprus.

But the company’s efforts to rejuvenate its games and cut distribution costs are paying off.

Net profit dropped 44.5 percent to 15.7 million euros due largely to a 21.6 million euro retroactive tax. Excluding this tax and other one-off items, net profit rose 56 percent to 44.2 million euros, the company said.

Sales climbed 8 percent to 947.3 million euros and were broadly in line with analysts’ forecasts. The rise was driven by a 31.5 percent increase in flagship sports betting game Stihima, bolstered by the June 12-July 13 soccer World Cup in Brazil.

New games, including a scratch card launched in May, also boosted sales by 121 million euros.

OPAP shares have gained 27 percent so far this year, outperforming the Athens bourse’s general index which is almost flat.

1 US dollar = 0.7573 euro Reporting by Angeliki Koutantou; Editing by Renee Maltezou and Mark Potter