Entain, the owner of Ladbrokes and Coral brands, on Thursday reported an 11% growth in net gaming revenue during the first half of the year, driven by the resumption of sporting events including the Euro 2020. The operator also said it is doubling investment in its in-house games studios.
Total net gaming revenue was up 42% during the second quarter of 2021, with 22 consecutive quarters of double-digit growth in the online segment with revenues up 22% in Q2, and 28% in the first half, driven by sports betting, reflecting limited sports activity in the prior year. Entain also noted "particularly strong" performances in Italy and Brazil during H1.
In addition, the company saw "encouraging early trends" in retail as restrictions eased in phases during the second quarter.
As for BetMGM, the Group’s joint venture in the US with MGM Resorts, it is the number two operator for sports betting and iGaming across the US with 21% market share, and a 29% market share as an iGaming operator. Its net revenues in the first half amounted to approximately $350 million.
Outside the recently regulated German market, Entain saw "excellent growth across all major markets," with recent acquisitions, Bet.pt in Portugal and Enlabs in the Baltics, performing ahead of expectations."
"Entain expects fiscal year 2021 EBITDA to be in the range of £850 million to £900 million, ahead of current consensus. An investor event is set to be held on 12 August to provide a strategic and operational update.
“We have delivered another strong performance across the Group. Our diversified business model has enabled us to grow our business in all key markets while navigating channel and product mix changes as retail re-opens and we annualise last year’s restricted sports calendar," Entain’s CEO Jette Nygaard-Andersen said in a press release. "Following our strong first half, we are upgrading our expectations for the full year and we remain confident and excited by the breadth and scale of the long-term sustainable growth opportunities ahead of us.”
Headcount will double to around 300 people across Entain’s three in-house studios in the UK, Italy, and India within a year, to deliver exclusive new products and experiences across all its markets, including the U.S. CR Games, Entain’s UK games studio based near Oldham, Manchester, will initially create 8 new roles taking its headcount close to 50.
New content includes free to play slots tournaments, believed to be the first of their kind, expanding the offering of free games to play and win cash prizes. Over 30,000 customers of Entain’s Coral brand in the UK entered in June following launch, with international customers of Gala, Party and bwin expected to join over the summer.
Following the recent sponsorship between its PartyCasino and PartyPoker brands and McLaren, customers will get exclusive access to Formula 1 themed casino content and games later this year. Entain is also developing new experiences for customers using immersive technologies, and plans to upweight this capability at its in-house studios. The Group’s first VR product for customers – a multi-activity sports club – is due later in the year.
“We love giving our customers great experiences and exciting entertainment as that is the bedrock of what we do,” said CEO Jette Nygaard-Andersen. “Increasing our investment across all three of our in-house games studios will provide more of that for our customers across all our global brands. By widening our offer with new and exclusive games, such as free-to-play tournaments, we give existing and new customers more reasons to use our products. This not only helps to grow our business but brings fresh insight, so we can further improve the offer for our customers.”
Entain’s studios are also adapting best-selling content for more international markets. Win Studios has tailored Entain’s core bingo product to create a unique sports-themed gaming experience for customers of its Sportingbet brand, for example, and CR Games is tailoring top-ranking proprietary games enjoyed in the UK for customers in Europe.
These now include new customers in the Baltic states, following the acquisition of Enlabs earlier this year. CR Games is versioning the latest release of its popular “Big Banker” game for customers of Optibet in Latvia and bwin customers in other parts of Europe. The studio is also creating new recreational games for the mass market, in the UK and elsewhere, including “Fiery Wilds”, a casino game which has already proved popular with players.
Colin Cole-Johnson, Entain Gaming Director, said: “Our priority is always to create exciting, engaging products that give our customers choice. Not only does this enhance the experience for the millions of people who enjoy our products, but is an important driver of Entain’s growth. These exclusive, innovative, and tailored games are really valued by our customers. Developing more of our own games means we have complete control over what goes into them, not just in giving our customers a great experience, but also keeping them safe.”
Entain has a third proprietary studio in Italy, Eurobet, which is also looking at customizing its most popular exclusive games in Italy to support Entain’s global growth.