February 22, 2018 / 8:41 AM / in 4 months

UPDATE 1-UK's Playtech warns on slowing current trading, shares plunge

(Recasts, adds results details, shares)

Feb 22 (Reuters) - British gambling technology company Playtech Plc said on Thursday its gaming division’s revenue at the start of first quarter was lower on troubles at its Asia business, hammering its shares.

Playtech issued a profit warning in November, saying earnings would be impacted by a crackdown on gambling syndicates in Malaysia, one of its largest Asian markets.

The company said on Thursday daily average revenue in its gaming division for the first 51 days of the first quarter was down 11 percent and that it had seen no change Malaysia.

Excluding Asia, average daily revenue was up 3 percent in the 51-day period.

But gains from recent acquisitions helped Playtech post an 18 percent increase in annual revenue.

However, comments on current trading dragged shares of the FTSE 250 company down as much as 12.5 percent to 677.8 pence in early trade.

Playtech, which makes software that powers thousands of fixed-odds betting terminals across UK, said revenue at its gaming division rose 17 percent to 722.2 million euros ($885.8 million).

The integration of Best Gambling Technology, which Playtech bought for 138 million euros in 2016, helped it build a 37 percent increase in retail machine footprint, the company said.

Group revenue for the year ended Dec. 31 rose to 807.1 million euros from 708.6 million euros year ago.

Founded by the Israeli billionaire Teddy Sagi, Playtech, which also owns world’s largest live casino studio in Latvia, said it was in active discussions with material and bolt-on acquisition targets in the gaming division. ($1 = 0.8153 euros) (Reporting by Rahul B in Bengaluru; Editing by Gopakumar Warrier)

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