Ex-Gambling Commission manager joins Playtech

Former senior online manager at the UK Gambling Commission, Richard Bayliss, has joined Playtech PLC as the new regulatory compliance manager.

Bayliss leaves the Commission after an eleven-year stint, in which he was involved in monitoring innovations in technologies and products in the sector, to evaluate any potential impact on gambling regulation in the UK.

The new role will encompass leading the group’s efforts towards responsible gambling initiatives and strategy.

Group head of regulatory affairs at Playtech, Ian Ince, announced the appointment, saying:

Everyone at Playtech is delighted to welcome Richard. With a wealth of experience with UKGC, his insight will be a major bonus as we strive to stay at the forefront of regulatory compliance developments. I’m certain he will be an invaluable addition to the team. Ian Ince, head of regulatory affairs at Playtech

Squeeze on the gambling industry to provide a test to Playtech

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Bayliss joins Playtech from the UK Gambling Commission. © Playtech.

Bayliss’ appointment at Playtech is timely, as the group looks set to face stern tests, especially in Asian markets.

Shares in the firm were at an all-time high last summer, but a government crackdown on gambling in Malaysia in October 2017 all but ended Playtech’s activities in what was one of its largest markets in Asia. UK-listed shares in the firm fell a massive 22% on that day.

Playtech’s 2017 financial report is set to be published this week and analysts estimate this crackdown will lead to a 10% reduction in earnings for 2017. But, the bigger worry is that further regulation is on the way.

Currently, Playtech is able to operate in China via a licence it holds in the Philippines. However, any crackdown in China that prevents Playtech operating there would be hugely damaging; analysts have estimated that more than 40% of the firm’s profit comes out of China.

Playtech’s focus on software enables it to operate in unregulated or grey markets while they slowly become regulated, but events in Malaysia served as a warning to shareholders and investors. Chief executive, Mor Weizer, has sought to calm investors by stating that the company will focus on regulated markets.

But even in the UK, the threat of greater restrictions and regulation looms large. With the UK government’s review of the industry looking more and more likely to lead to a massive cut in the stakes of fixed-odds betting terminals – from which Playtech draw around 5% of revenue – revenues could tumble further.

Compared to bookmakers, Playtech’s exposure on FOBTs is limited, and as a software provider rather than a typical operator, the group is diverse. A number of key acquisitions and more said to be on the way means that, despite the revenue warnings and potential crackdowns in Asia, confidence in Playtech remains high.

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