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Jason Ader hails Playtech’s US prospects following Teddy Sagi divestment

SpringOwl founder says the provider is likely to get a New Jersey licence early next year

Activist investor Jason Ader has hailed Playtech’s US prospects following the news that founder Teddy Sagi has sold off his remaining share in the company.

Ader said the divestment, which followed pressure from his SpringOwl investment vehicle, would speed up Playtech’s licensing process in the US.

Having gone through the process of licensing when I was involved with Las Vegas Sands I know it is it is a fairly intrusive process and it certainly would have taken a lot of time for Teddy to get licensed,” Ader told EGR Intel.

He said Playtech stood a good chance of getting a license in New Jersey in the first quarter of 2019.

When asked whether Playtech had missed the boat on the US opportunity, with several major B2B deals already signed, Ader pointed out that first-mover advantage was unlikely to be vital in the US.

“I always go back to bet365 who were definitely not first mover in the UK and who are doing just fine,” he said.

“I think the European expectations for the US are probably a little bit more optimistic than me sitting here on the ground, just because my experience is that it will take time.”

Ader also dismissed concerns that Playtech was more focused on casino in a market that will be built around sports betting, saying: “They have great technology throughout.”

“Playtech has omni-channel solutions for sports betting and casino and I think they can really offer solutions throughout the ecosystem in a way that’s incredibly unique and in a way that IGT and Scientific Games can’t in my opinion”.

Ader has built a $100m position in Playtech over the past year.

A spokesperson for Teddy Sagi told EGR his divestment was “in no way linked to Ader’s claims”, adding: “The final sale of Playtech was part of a strategy – to diversify his wealth by moving to real estate, co-working, e-commerce and new technology ventures – planned as long ago as 2016, a point which was covered by the press at the time”.

Goodbody analyst Gavin Kelleher said the firm was well placed in the US by virtue of its self service betting terminal business.

“It is widely recognised as having the best self service betting terminals in the market, and with retail betting likely to be allowed in a number of states, there is a significant market opportunity,” Kelleher said. “Added to this omni-channel is likely to be more important in the US than other markets, and Playtech’s omni-channel offering is market leading.”

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