Market report: Playtech's bingo software swoop gets investors eyeing a full house

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Shareholders in Israeli gaming tycoon Teddy Sagi’s Playtech were betting on the firm hitting the jackpot on Friday with its acquisition of bingo software business ECM Systems.

In a deal worth about £15 million, Playtech said the purchase of the firm, which supplies support services to Gala Leisure, positions it “at the forefront of the retail bingo market in the UK”.

Its shares rose 9.8p to 938.4p.

But the gambling sector was out of favour with the City as the Competition and Markets Authority said it is planning a crackdown on online gambling firms amid fears they may be conning their customers by blocking payouts to players.

Sarah Harrison, chief executive of the Gambling Commission, which will work alongside the CMA on the inquiry, said: “Customers must have faith that if they win, they will not end up feeling that the deck is stacked against them because of an obscure condition that they did not properly understand.”

In response, shares in Ladbrokes dipped 2.9p to 134.8p, William Hill fell 3.9p to 294p, while GVC dropped 7.5p to 712p, and 888 was down 2p to 225p.

There was better news for Acacia Mining, which was the biggest riser on the mid-cap FTSE 250 index.

Investors cheered the gold miner after it said it expected full-year production to be around 5% higher than the top end of its earlier forecast.

The firm, which operates across Africa, added that profits and revenues surged in the third quarter.

Russ Mould, investment director at stockbroker AJ Bell, said: “The strong operational and financial results represent another significant step forward for Acacia, particularly considering some of the headwinds experienced during the quarter.” Shares in Acacia soared 43.8p, or more than 9%, to 513p.

The FTSE 250 fell 16.06 points to 17,928.99.

Mining stocks were also popular on the FTSE 100, with Rio Tinto rising 21p to 2639.5p and Antofagasta edging up 4.5p to 517p.

The blue-chip index crawled 2.35 points higher to 7029.25 on a thin day for corporate news beyond BAT’s  $47 billion swoop for Reynolds.  

Among small-cap stocks, floral furniture flogger Laura Ashley was a winner as it said goodbye to its Homebase concessions following the DIY chain’s sale to Australian retailer Wesfarmers.

The end of the outlets, which will shut by the middle of next year, lifted Laura Ashley’s stock 0.38p to 20.62p.

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October 21, 2016 |
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