London-based company Playtech, one of the largest global suppliers of betting and gambling software, has announced that it acquired the responsible gambling analytics company, Bet Buddy. Ian Ince, Regulatory Affairs and Compliance for Playtech, explains why Playtech made the move for Bet Buddy:
"BetBuddy is the leading company in this field and has a team that has focused exclusively on developing an industry-leading responsible gambling solution. The strength of the product and the knowledge and experience that the team brings is unparalleled, and we are delighted to have completed this acquisition and to welcome them to the Playtech family."
While no fee has been released as yet, Simo Dragicevic, Chief Executive for Bet Buddy, echoed Ian Ince's sentiments:
"We look forward to working with the Playtech compliance, business intelligence and game development teams, in partnership with Playtech’s customers and wider industry stakeholders, to continue to help to raise standards in responsible gambling."
The announcement comes after Responsible Gambling Week in the UK, which ran from October 12-18. The entire industry got behind the first-time event, with more than 10,000 gambling venues and websites taking part and promoting its theme ‘let’s talk about responsible gambling’!
Responsible Gambling Week, and Playtech's recent move to acquire Bet Buddy, are indicative of a wider issue that the gambling industry is dealing with – that of acting responsibly. There has been criticism of fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs) in the UK for example, which has led to reduction in the stakes punters can place.
Currently, players can put up to £100 on games every 20 seconds. The Department for Culture, Media and Sport is looking at proposals for a new cap on the amount and a 12-week consultation is under way.
For bookmakers (and the companies that provide their software), these high-stakes machines are crucial for high-street profits. Betting shops and high-street bookmakers are already struggling compared to the online gambling sector, and these machines are integral to revenue.
While there's no doubt that Playtech is invested in responsible gambling, recent changes in Malaysia's gambling laws have hit the company. Profits are expected to be 5% lower than bottom-end of market expectations as a result of the Malaysian government's move to close loopholes in its gambling laws.
This means citizens will no longer be able to gamble online, which is a large form of revenue for Playtech in Asia. Additionally, the company has had to relaunch The Sun newspaper’s bingo site after lower than predicted uptake from the public.
While neither of these issues is a major concern in the long run given the company's overall success, the Malaysian law reform and increasing pressure in the UK for gambling providers to be as responsible as possible means that the acquisition of Bet Buddy is a sound long-term strategy.
The debate, and occasionally fine lines, between gambling as a fun pastime or potential addiction will continue to be discussed and drawn. This can only be a good thing for the industry however, as sound, responsible practice and transparency are becoming valued by punters and operators just as much as they are by the regulators!