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Mor, Mor, Mor, how do you like it?

Following the release of its H1 financial results this week, Playtech CEO Mor Weizer spoke to the Evening Standard to express some frustrations about how his company is perceived.

The business has established a strong focus on regulated markets, he said (although some revenue still comes from grey markets in Latam and other regions), while some of its competitors are taking business from black markets where gambling is specifically outlawed.

Weizer pointed out that Playtech’s regulated revenue saw double-digit growth in H1, but said it was “frustrating” to be compared to companies that continue to operate in black markets.

“It is less helpful when they operate in black markets and use that money to penetrate regulated markets. We know some that operate in sanctioned markets, countries on the US sanctions list,” he suggested.

“It is frustrating to see people compare us to public companies that are growing very quickly. But they are growing in unregulated markets and shrinking in regulated markets. We are growing in regulated markets.”

Without mentioning any specific rivals, Weizer said that some suppliers have seen astronomical growth in recent years despite having evolved to generate a declining share of revenue from regulated markets.

Playtech shares trade at a lower multiple than many of its rivals listed outside London, the article points out, but Weizer suggests that comes down to the high level of knowledge of UK-based investors.

“Shareholders in the UK are very sophisticated and are very conscious of regulated activity, regulated markets, strict regulated environments,” he said.

If that’s the case, does this mean that some of Playtech’s rivals are currently overvalued? Time will tell.

Where’s the evidence?

The Guardian this week turned its spotlight on a “retreat” from the UK government on gambling advertising.

UK lawmakers have come under fire for claiming that a decision to step back from a ban on gambling advertising was driven by a lack of evidence that it leads to harm among consumers.

“We have very much gone on the evidence [and] there’s little evidence that exposure to advertising alone causes people to enter into gambling harm,” said Stuart Andrew, the minister for sport, gambling and civil society, earlier this week.

“Once we have the research if there’s more evidence that proves advertising is causing harm then we will look at that.”

That assessment has been disputed by at least one expert on gambling harm, as consultant psychologist Dr Matt Gaskell suggested: “The evidence is clear that gambling advertising drives consumption, which increases harm.

“This is well known internationally, and as a result many European countries have taken action to protect their communities with stringent advertising curbs. 

“Our children, young people, and those experiencing harm or in recovery continue to be exposed to ubiquitous gambling advertising, and the government have chosen to expose them to harm.”

Such differences in opinion – alongside pressure from broadcasters which rely on the revenue from gambling advertising – have led to the creation of “a very difficult debate at times,” Andrew acknowledged.

And there is also the not inconsiderable matter of a lack of quality evidence pointing one way or the other.

A shortage of funding for research into the matter has not helped deliver conclusive evidence in either direction, The Guardian suggested.

A new system of research funding is set to come into play in 2024, Andrew said, which should allow the government 

As is so often the case, the best answer to these questions, between those offered up by gambling firms and those provided by prohibitionists, likely lies somewhere in the middle.

Wynn settles sexual harassment case 

The Las Vegas Review-Journal this week gave us an update on a sexual harassment case which has plagued Wynn Resorts since 2019.

Attorneys representing the casino operator and nine anonymous women who filed the sexual harassment case have now reached an undisclosed settlement, according to US District Court documents.

The lawyers have now requested the action be dismissed, and that a status check settlement conference be scheduled within two months.

All parties have remained tight lipped on the details of the settlement, as Wynn said it would not make a comment and the nine women’s attorneys could not be reached for comment.

Each of the women made specific allegations regarding sexual harassment by former Wynn CEO Steve Wynn, while they were working as manicurists and makeup artists in the company’s salons.

Steve Wynn has repeatedly claimed that he has never harassed or sexually assaulted anyone.

In court filings, however, the women “gave graphic descriptions of how Steve Wynn asked personal questions of a sexual nature, forced them to massage him near his genital area and required them to provide services to him in secluded areas.”

The case was initially filed in 2019, a year after the former CEO left the business following public allegations made in a 2018 Wall Street Journal article.

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