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Growing with iGaming

Jonathan Doubilet, Managing Director and Vice President, Operations, U.S., Playtech PLC

Growing with iGaming

Jonathan Doubilet comes from a family of mixed heritage: Israeli, Canadian, and French-Canadian. “I was exposed to a diverse sample of people throughout my life,” says Doubilet, who heads up U.S. operations for iGaming giant Playtech.

“Having started work early on (kitchen duty at 13), I also gained familiarity with individuals from many different socioeconomic levels, which actually piqued my interest in socioeconomics early on and led to me to focus on finance and macroeconomics in my studies.”

Doubilet is a graduate of Israel’s College of Law and Business, where he obtained a B.A. in finance. His entrance into the gaming industry was kind of hoisted on him while living in Tel Aviv. Israel is often referred to as the startup nation where iGaming was pioneered more than 20 years ago, says Doubilet, who loves the culture of Israel and the Mediterranean as much as the financial atmosphere.

“While I initially targeted and began career work in the commercial finance sector, I quickly realized that the tech sector offered a much more diverse range of opportunities,” he says.

Development of fintech platforms quickly transitioned to betting exchange and sports betting arbitrage platforms, which allowed Doubilet to leverage his financial knowledge while incorporating a love of sports.

“This eventually brought me into the fold of iGaming companies in Israel, where I was exposed to the broader iGaming and sports betting sectors, while also providing a solid source of income,” he says.

This caught the attention of Playtech, which had developed and/or acquired iCasino, iPoker and iBingo products at the time, but was still in search of the right solution for sports betting. “I didn’t have much of a choice—they bought the startup I was working at. It was the third startup I had joined in my career, and specialized in the development of sports betting exchange technology, which we had successfully distributed to some high-profile partners.”

By February 2020, Playtech relocated him from Vienna to New York City for the start of efforts to penetrate the American iGaming and sports betting markets. The majority of Playtech’s revenues come from Europe and the U.K. His marching orders were to establish an office and make first hires.

“Covid-19 hit before my family and I had even received our shipping container of belongings,” Doubilet says. “Fortunately, I work in a resilient industry (and have a resilient family) and so we managed to find our offices and make initial hires, as well as seal and launch large-scale projects throughout the pandemic.”

Now managing director and vice president, operations, U.S. for Playtech, Doubilet has spent more than 12 years with the company.

The pandemic also forced Doubilet to spend extensive time with his family. “As someone who used to travel two days a week on average, I was given the opportunity of a lifetime to connect with those I love,” he says.

Success didn’t come in a vacuum for Doubilet. Meni Benish was there. “A serial entrepreneur and honorary consul of the Republic of Georgia to Israel, Meni took me on as a part of a fintech startup while I was still young and fresh, opening my eyes to what hard work and persistence can achieve, no matter your background,” Doubilet says.

Europe and the U.S. share many parallels, but the most notable difference both in consumer behavior and industry expertise is the relative maturity of both markets, Doubilet says. “One is based on the heritage of New Jersey (expanding to five states) and going back to 2013, while the other is based on a large tapestry of jurisdictions which has been regulated and operational since 2006.”

Doubilet expects to see brick-and-mortar locations become more of a dominant force in the sports betting industry in the next five years. “Lower cost of acquisition and broad brand appeal of MGM, Caesars, Penn National and Boyd,” he says, “to dull the ability of non-endemic brands to capture market share.”

Bill Sokolic is a veteran journalist who has covered gaming and tourism for more than 25 years as a staff writer and freelancer with various publications and wire services. He's also written stories for news, entertainment, features, and business. He co-authored Atlantic City Revisited, a pictorial history of the resort.