Friday , October 21, 2011 : NEW REVELATIONS IN GAMBLING CENTRE DISPUTE
 
Spies, computer sabotage, demands for information and resignations detailed by UK newspaper
 
The highly respected British newspaper The Telegraph blew the lid off the William Hill Online work stoppages in Israel Friday in a report that claims that the UK gambling group has hired former Israeli intelligence officers to help regain control of its Israeli operations.
 
The report comes in the aftermath of mass staff walkouts and allegations of computer system sabotage.
 
William Hill chief executive Ralph Topping has reportedly flown to Tel Aviv to join WHO boss Henry Birch in sorting out the problems, which have impacted both operations and share price. William Hill holds 71 percent of the WHO joint venture with Playtech, and Topping is to meet with his counterpart at Playtech, Mor Weizer during his visit.
 
The Telegraph claims that William Hill has followed through on its earlier promise to discipline certain managers, with proceedings opened on allegations of refusal to comply with an internal audit, and that the company believes the situation could be resolved by the intervention of Teddy Sagi – Playtech’s founder and 40 percent major shareholder.
 
It now transpires that the walkout by 180 Israelis in the Tel Aviv operations was followed by a similar action by the 100 employees in the WHO Bulgarian centre, and that neither are back to full operational activity yet.
 
And in Manila, 300 Playtech workers involved with WHO activities also walked off the job.
 
The Telegraph report notes that the labour dispute is linked to the surprise resignation of Eyal Sanoff, the chief marketing officer, who quit on September 27 claiming constructive dismissal.
 
The newspaper reports that he resigned after William Hill told him to provide day-to-day access to the computer systems of the Tel Aviv operation.
 
For several months he allegedly refused to comply, and the company gave him a September 30 deadline. Three days before that deadline expired, Sanoff quit, leaving the issue open to speculation that all was not as it should be in Tel Aviv.
 
"Last Sunday matters came to a head when Henry Birch, WHO’s chief executive, and Jim Mullen, its chief operating officer, visited Tel Aviv only to find staff had been redirected to a local beach," the Telegraph reports.
 
"Employees were allegedly told that William Hill planned to close the Tel Aviv operation, with Mr Sanoff offering to re-employ them in a new business. William Hill maintains it has “no intention” of closing the Tel Aviv operation.
 
"When Mr Mullen visited the Tel Aviv office, he was locked out. Its email and telephone systems were also taken down," the newspaper was told.
 
The Telegraph notes that William Hill has a call option to buy out Playtech’s stake in WHO in October 2013 and some analysts believe the current disruption is a warning shot from Sagi that it must pay top dollar or risk further chaos.
 
But sources close to Mr Sagi told the newspaper that he denied he had any involvement in the situation, saying it was a “WHO issue”.