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Thursday, February 23, 2006

PLAYTECH: confirmed listing on the UK stockmarket - but what about the owed players?

It was announced last week that online casino software provider Playtech are confirmed as seeking a listing on the UK Alternative Investment Market:

The rumoured London listing of turnkey provider Playtech was confirmed this (Friday) morning by a company spokesman, who said that his company hoped the shares would be placed with institutional investors by the end of March.

The spokesman confirmed that Playtech plans to raise GBP 175 million in a London stock market flotation that will value it around GBP 550 million.

The firm, majority-owned by Israeli internet-gaming entrepreneur Teddy Sagi, counts the Tote, Bet365 and BetFred among its clients and is the latest in a series of online gambling firms to opt for a London listing. Yesterday, Excapa Software, which also makes online poker software, floated on London's junior AIM market and saw its shares rise 5 percent in early trade.

Cyprus-registered Playtech said in a statement it made sales of GBP 27.4 million and a post-tax profit of GBP 20.5 million for the financial year to December 31, 2005.

Collins Stewart has been appointed as sole bookrunner, nominated advisor and joint broker. Seymour Pierce is joint broker.

(Source: Casinomeister Playtech listing confirmation.)

This was originally mooted in September last year - see the Playtech seeks listing on the London stock exchange article.

My question, which remains the same now as then, is:

Will Playtech now step up the pressure on those licensees who have substantial debts to their players?

It's undeniably the case that, since Playtech act only as providers and are not responsible for the day to day running of their clients' businesses, they are not technically directly responsible for any of these client debts.

However, the reality of the online casino business is a little different.

As one of the biggest software providers in the business, Microgaming take an absolutely hands-on attitude towards the people to whom they license their product, and have been known to revoke a casino's license and settle all debts themselves, in extreme cases, as a last resort - see the following extract from a Microgaming press release when they revoked the license of failed client "Goodfellas":


Microgaming announces that the licence for the operation of the casino owned by Big Global, which runs Goodfellows Casino, has been terminated with immediate effect. Microgaming is aware that for some time there have been player allegations that pay outs to players have not been made by Goodfellows casino.

(Source: Winneronline Goodfellas discussion.)

Microgaming is not even a public company - they remain privately owned to this day.

It is not acceptable for Playtech to establish a position on the UK stock market while they demonstrate such a grossly irresponsible attitude towards their licensees' treatment of the players.

There are two options as I see it:

1) They ensure that their licensees settle all legitimate player debts.

2) They do not list.

If they fail to encourage their licensees to settle all legitimate customer debts they should not be entitled to their public listing - what kind of a message does it send out to investors and the interested public at large when such irresponsibility is rewarded in this way?

Three debts stand out, which can be read in their respective articles: Giant Vegas, Swiss Casino and African Palace. These are not the ONLY issues; they are, however, the largest.

I would ask Playtech to give serious consideration to encouraging these licensees to settle with the players before this public listing goes ahead.

1 Previous Comments

Worth 800 million, can't be bothered to sort out a few grand for players that have been cheated by various licensees.

The player is treated like cattle. The investors could'nt care less, as long as profits are made.


By Blogger Gamblog UK, at 6:44 am  

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Monday, February 13, 2006

AFRICAN PALACE CASINO: player owed $29,000

In my pevious African Palace artilcle, Bryan Bailey of Casinomeister is on a record as saying:

There is a 5 figure payment to a player that has been pending for six weeks. The casino has been unresponsive to player emails; they have a history of blowing me off as well.

Avoid these casinos at all costs.

This player, owed a "five-figure sum", has now felt obliged to go public with his case. Here is what he has to say as of February 12th 2006:

In September of 2004 I took part in a weekend promotion running at African Palace Casino and its sister, Indio Casino. The promo was clearly intended to entice well bankrolled players. I received the promotional e-mails, and confirmed that I could participate. Between both accounts, I deposited $25,170 and finally withdrew $41,585, completing the wagering requirements playing mostly VP and some Blackjack.

Then my troubles began. The previously attentive casinos would not respond for weeks as to why I was not being paid, except to say that management was looking into unspecified ?irregularities with my accounts.? In November 2004, Neteller very creditably agreed to step in and started investigating this case. After several more months, the casino management finally proposed a settlement of $28,740 for the two accounts, which I agreed to in the interest of resolving this case.

Neteller was the third party in these negotiations and continued to monitor the casino?s compliance. While this was not clear at the time of the agreement, African Palace eventually stated that it was only going to pay the settlement in installments of $3000 per month. The monthly payments started in May of 2005 and then ended after only two months without explanation.

In October 2005, I filed a complaint concerning this case with Playtech?s dispute channel. I never even received a response. However, the next month I received an additional $3000 payment from the casino. Unfortunately, the payments did not continue the following month or thereafter.

To this date I have only received $12,000 of the promised amount and have no expectation I will receive any more.

Source: the "African Palace stole my money" thread at Casinomeister.

In summary:

1) In September 2004, the player deposited a total of $25,170 at both African Palace and Indio Casino.

2) He requested a total withdrawal of $41,585, representing a win of $16,415.

3) The casino did not process any of this withdrawal, so two months later the player requested the intervention of Neteller.

4) The casino proposed a settlement of $28,740. This is exactly $12,845 less than the player's total original cashout.

5) The player accepted the proposal.

6) The casino processed in total $12,000.

7) The player has to date been completely ignored by the Playtech "dispute service", whose manager I spoke with at the London International Casino Exhibition - see my "meeting with the Playtech dispute service" article - and to whom I forwarded the particulars of this case myself two weeks ago. My email has also been completely ignored.

This player cashed out just over $41,000, of which he is still owed $29,000 fully eighteen months later. He accepted a settlement which was $13,000 less than his total cashout - reducing his win from over $16,000 to just over $3000 - and, in spite of this mind-blowing compromise, has still been paid less than half the total agreed sum.

Hopefully Neteller, who have already been involved, will be able to provide more assistance. At the end of the day they have enormous power, since withdrawal of their financial services from any casino effectively cuts the casino off at its knees.

In the meantime, it goes without saying that African Palace and Indio Casino should be avoided for the rogues they are.

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