Light and Wonder Continues Gaming Push, Replaces CEO, Sees Stock Drop 13%

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Light and Wonder (LNW) wants to continue to awe and inspire the retail and online casino industry. To that end, the gambling products and services company formerly known as Scientific Games (SG) is pushing forward with its efforts to streamline LNW into a gaming-centric business.

Hence, LNW installed an interim CEO who’d headed its gaming group, replacing the one who still has “Gaming, Lottery, Social, and Digital” listed on his LinkedIn profile as LNW’s business divisions.

In last week’s announcement about the leadership change, Las Vegas-based LNW said Interim CEO Matt Wilson will be working two jobs. Wilson will still be EVP and Gaming Group CEO, as well as the interim CEO, while the company searches for a permanent CEO.

The Aug. 30 press release says:

In connection with the appointment, Barry Cottle has stepped down as President and Chief Executive Officer and a member of the Company’s Board of Directors and will support a seamless transition as a consultant.

LNW stock dropped nearly 13% from Aug. 30 to today.

On Friday, Eric Volkman of The Motley Fool opined that the stock drop shows investors aren’t fans of the leadership change.

Plus, he says:

Although Light and Wonder has made some improvements, notably in reducing its heavy debt load, it’s booked losses in its last two quarters, and its revenue hasn’t yet returned to pre-pandemic levels.

A media representative with the Las Vegas-based brand didn’t immediately return Bonus.com‘s request for comment today.

Wilson Illustrates Gaming Push by Light and Wonder

Moving Wilson into LNW’s top job continues the company’s goal of concentrating on casino products.

The company sold OpenBet, its sports betting product, a year ago for $1.2 billion. Then it sold SG Lottery in October 2021 for $6 billion.

During Q2 2022, it rebranded to LNW.

Today, the Light and Wonder site says the company has “more games in regulated markets than any other aggregation platform out there.” Those more than 4,000 games are hosted by 450 iGaming brands in 29 regulated jurisdictions, including the US and Ontario online casino markets.

The site shows that 10 online casino games are slated to debut between Sept. 15, 2022 (Terrific Tiger Coin Combo), and Feb. 1, 2023 (five-reel Blood and Gold).

Last week, LNW Executive Chairman Jamie Odell said:

As we enter the next chapter of our growth journey as the leading cross-platform global game company, we are confident that now is the right time to make this leadership transition. Our Executive Vice Chair, Toni Korsanos, and I have worked closely with Matt for over 10 years, including most recently as he has successfully worked to turn around and reposition Light & Wonder’s Gaming business for long-term growth. We are confident that his strategic insights, deep industry knowledge, rich experience, and impressive track record make him the ideal person to serve as interim CEO during this transition period.

That decade of working with Wilson hasn’t all happened at LNW.

Korsanos, Odell, and Wilson worked for the Australian gaming giant, Aristocrat Leisure. Known for manufacturing digital slot machines, Aristocrat had attempted to buy Isle of Man-based online gambling software supplier Playtech last year for $3.7 billion.

However, by that time, the trio held leadership positions with LNW.

Meanwhile, Cottle’s 15 years of gaming industry leadership didn’t include roles with Aristocrat.

Light and Wonder Reiterated Its 2025 Vision

In last week’s announcement about the leadership change, Light and Wonder “reaffirmed its 2022-2025 financial targets provided at its Investor Day on May 17, 2022.”

Going back to that presentation, LNW said it will have $10 billion “to deploy” during that time on the company’s “capital allocation priorities.”

LNW CFO Connie James said on Aug. 9 of the Q2 2022 Light and Wonder earnings report:

With our strong financial profile, including a high mix of recurring and digital revenues, sustainable double-digit growth, and a strong cash flow profile we will generate significant excess capital. We are actively executing on our capital allocation priorities as we paid down $4.9 billion of debt in the quarter and repurchased $203 million of our shares, or 27% of our total buyback authorization, in just five months. As we look forward, we will continue to drive operational excellence throughout our organization creating a strong foundation for growth.

So it seems LNW is moving forward toward its goals.

However, Wilson may want to update his LinkedIn profile to list his current company as Light and Wonder rather than SG.

About the Author

Heather Fletcher

Heather Fletcher is the lead writer at Bonus, concentrating on online casino coverage. She had her first published byline at age 10, but didn't get paid for her writing until she got her first newspaper job. Fletcher's newspaper career started at Suburban News Publications in Ohio and eventually took her to The New York Times, where she's still a contract freelance reporter for the National Desk. She covers breaking news from Philadelphia, as needed. In March 2021, Fletcher began writing about online casino gambling as the lead writer for Online Poker Report.

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