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New Light & Wonder CEO sets out growth plans for streamlined business

| By Robert Fletcher
Newly appointed Light & Wonder president and chief executive Matt Wilson revealed his aims for the streamlined business to achieve further growth, following a third quarter in which it posted year-on-year increases across revenue, earnings and net profit.

Wilson assumed the roles on a full-time basis in October, having served as interim CEO since August after the departure of Barry Cottle.

Wilson took charge at a transformative time for the group, which sold its lottery business to private equity company Brookfield Business Partners in April in a deal worth $5.8bn.

In August, the business also completed the sale of its OpenBet sports betting platform to Endeavor, while the group in October acquired the assets of loyalty and marketing software and technology provider House Advantage to further strengthen its offering.

With Light & Wonder now operating across three core business segments – gaming, igaming and social gaming with SciPlay – Wilson said this streamlined approach will allow the group to advance in Q4 and beyond and deliver greater value for shareholders, customers and players.

“Our strategy is in place, and we are taking share with our robust R&D engine and best-in-class talent,” Wilson said during an earnings call. “Our strong balance sheet and operational momentum gives us the ability to leverage our leading industry position, evergreen franchises and unmatched platforms that drive sustainable growth and significant value, fostering a high-performance culture and making disciplined investments in our future while maintaining a laser focus on operations and execution will underpin our success. 

“And that will enable us to unlock our full potential and drive greater value for all of our stakeholders.

“I think strategy will change at the margins over time because markets evolve and things change, so we’ll focus on that over time. But importantly, we know who we are. We know who we want to be and we have a clear vision. 

“We want to be the leading cross-platform global games company. That’s the mission, that’s the north star. That’s where we’re headed. And it’s time for us to get on and keep executing against that.”

Turning to the Q3 results and revenue for the three months to the end of September was $648.0m (£568.2m/€645.8m), up 20.2% from $539.0m in the same period last year.

Breaking this down, the group’s gaming business was responsible for the largest portion of revenue, generating $419.0m during the month, a 23.6% increase on Q3 of 2021. This, the group said, was driven by a 47.0% rise in gaming machine sales, coupled with continued growth momentum in gaming operations. 

SciPlay revenue also climbed 16.3% year-on-year to $171.0m, a new quarterly record for the segment that was primarily driven by the core social casino business, coupled with benefit from the Alictus acquisition in March.

In terms of igaming, revenue here was up 9.4% to $58.0m as a result of ongoing growth in the US market, though Light & Wonder said this was partly offset by an unfavourable impact of foreign currency translation due to strengthening of the US dollar.

Looking at spending during the quarter and total operating expenses were 10.7% higher at $559.0m, while the group also noted a further $65.0m in net financial expend. This left a pre-tax profit of $24.0m, compared to a $72.0m loss at the same point last year.

Light & Wonder paid $4.0m in income tax in Q3, which left a $20.0m net profit from the group’s continuing operations, down from $100.0m last year as it received a $172.0m tax benefit in Q3 of 2021.

However, the business also accounted for $315.0m in additional profit from discontinued operations. This included a $362.0m pre-tax gain on the sale of its sports betting business. 

As such, after also accounting for a further $7.0m profit from non-controlling interests, this meant Light & Wonder was able to end the quarter with a net profit of $328.0m, up 80.2% year-on-year. In addition, adjusted earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation was 15.8% higher at $235.0m.

“Our financial strength, combined with the nucleus of a robust R&D engine and best-in-class talent sets us up well to execute on our strategy and product road map to continue to gain share,” Wilson said.

“As a leader focused on operations, execution and value creation, I’m committed to building on our strong momentum and enhancing value for all stakeholders.”

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