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Lockdowns hit Ladbrokes owner Entain despite soaring online revenues

Naomi Ackerman
·3-min read
<p>The FTSE 100 betting giant, previously GVC Holdings, said that in the three months to end March online revenues were up 33%</p> (Entain)

The FTSE 100 betting giant, previously GVC Holdings, said that in the three months to end March online revenues were up 33%

(Entain)

Ladbrokes owner Entain launched a group-wide employee share scheme on Thursday as it reported soaring online revenues and continued US growth. 

The FTSE 100 betting giant, previously GVC Holdings, said that in the three months to end March online net gaming revenues were up 33% - taking it to more than 21 consecutive quarters of double-digit online growth. 

But overall revenues fell by 13% compared to the same period in 2020, as its retail estate was "almost all entirely closed" as restrictions were imposed across Europe. It comes after revenues across its sites fell 40% to £875 million in the year to end December. 

Entain, which is also behind betting brands including Coral and Sportingbet, said its share plan - open with a £100 monthly contributions cap more than 14,000 British and Irish retail employees - aims to give staff "the opportunity to share in the success and growth of its global business". 

Entain has been targeting US growth and making acquisitions, including snapping up Swedish online bookmaker Enlabs last month.

London-listed sports gambling operators are all focusing on US growth as the country sees a boom in the sector following a 2018 Supreme Court ruling allowing states to decide on legalising sports bets. The long-term UK market outlook is less rosy, as potential changes to gambling laws, due to come to a vote in parliament in 2022, could hit profitability. 

Entain is currently the third-largest operator in the space behind Paddy Power owner Flutter and US firm Draft Kings, offering BetMGM - a joint venture with Nevada-based casino operator MGM Resorts.

The firm recently rejected an approach from MGM that valued the business at £8.1 billion, saying that it "significantly undervalues the company and its prospects”. MGM has to wait six months before it can return with another offer.

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The betting giant's former chief executive Shay Segev stepped down in January after less than six months to join sports media firm DAZN, to be swiftly replaced by new boss Jette Nygaard-Andersen - the first female chief executive of a major listed betting company.

Nygaard-Andersen said she is "delighted" at the share plan, saying that it comes after Entain "has been one of the highest performing companies in the FTSE-100 over the past year".

She said: "BetMGM continues to exhibit outstanding momentum with impressive market share growth. Our acquisitions of Bet.pt and Enlabs underpin further progress on our strategic expansion into new regulated markets. 

"Although Covid creates some near-term uncertainty, by maintaining our focus on the customer, providing them with great products and services, we remain confident and excited in our long-term prospects."

Laura Hoy, equity analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said: “The group’s US joint venture, BetMGM, is ticking along nicely as well as the group steadily grows its marketshare across Sports betting and iGaming. This is a huge opportunity for Entain."

Shares were up 1.5%, or 24p, to 1630p, in early trading. 

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