Saturday April 19,2014 : PERSONAL ATTACK LAUNCHED ON INTERNET GAMBLING INVESTOR
Playtech's principal shareholder attacked over past history and involvement in FOBTs.
Teddy Sagi, the forty-two year old Israeli billionaire and main shareholder in the Playtech online gambling technology empire was the target of a highly personal attack published by the UK newspaper The Daily Mail Saturday.
The Mail is well known for its anti-gambling crusades and in particular its vehement opposition to the Fixed Odds Betting Terminals available in retail betting shops throughout Britain, and its ad hominem attack on Sagi appears to have been triggered by his involvement in that sector of the industry, which the Mail frequently characterises as the "crack cocaine of gambling."
The article makes much of his playboy lifestyle, appetite for risk and relationships with beautiful women, and recalls aspects of his history that it suggests are questionable, for example:
* His association with FOBTs through Playtech, which the Mail alleges is the software developer and supplier for the "…majority of software used by High Street bookmakers where people, often from the most deprived areas, pump billions of pounds a year into the machines."
* Expanding the FOBT experience to mobile and online gambling; the article claims: "Teddy Sagi’s company Playtech unashamedly states its software can help bookmakers ‘manage your players throughout the player’s life-cycle, describing how a gambler can play on a machine in a betting shop, and then ‘when he is ready to move on, he can continue the game on his smartphone and tablet device in the comfort of his own home’.
* Accuses Sagi of a past involvement in pornography through his 1999 (the same year that he founded Playtech) investment in Unlimited9, a company that was allegedly involved in setting up porn sites. Seven years later Unlimited9 was valued at GBP 550 million when it floated on the London Stock Exchange, making Sagi – then in his early thirties – a wealthy man.
* The writer of the piece, Steven Bird, claims that Sagi is "…a convicted criminal who comes from a family with a murderous past," going on to reveal that in 1994 at age 22 Sagi was arrested with seven other businessmen on suspicion of insider trading. They were charged with buying and then manipulating the value of stock in a widespread banking fraud. Sagi, the Mail claims, admitted grave deceit, bribery and insider trading, and was jailed for nine months. Bird also alleges that Sagi's brother Ronen was involved in a violent crime.
* Today, Sagi is estimated to be worth more than GBP 1 billion; has a wide spread of interests including investments in UK bookmaking firms; homes in Knightsbridge, Cyprus, Berlin, Israel and the U.S., and recently bought a Bombardier luxury private jet.
* In one of his recent deals, Sagi spent GBP 400 million to buy London’s iconic Camden Market.
* He had a child, now aged eight, with a former beauty queen, and is now seeing a former Miss Israel, with whom he’s had a second child.
Bird quotes an unnamed Sagi associate as saying: "He likes to have fun. He likes the good life. He takes long holidays and likes to spend his leisure time watching football or films. He enjoys playing the piano and ping pong."
Sagi was not available for interview when Bird attempted to talk to him, and the article carries only the conclusions reached by its author.