Sports betting and gaming giant Entain released Thursday its results for the first half of the year, with a total net gaming revenue growth of 18% to nearly GBP 2.1 billion while bringing back its dividend payout for the first time since the pandemic hit. The Ladbrokes and Coral owner also announced it will acquire Croatian bookmaker SuperSport for EUR 600 million ($620 million), and form a new division to drive its expansion in the region.
CFO and Deputy CEO Rob Wood said: “We’re still very much on that M&A trail. We’ve also formed a partnership with a local private equity firm to do further acquisitions… We view SuperSport as a platform acquisition, it’s the starting point and then we build through the region."
Having reported a “robust group performance during H1, reflecting the diversified business model and underlying momentum of the online business," Entain reported a 17% rise in group EBITDA to GBP 471 million ($575.6 million). Its online net gaming revenue, however, dropped 7%, reflecting strong prior year comparisons driven by Covid lockdowns, temporary closure in the Netherlands, affordability measures in the UK, and customers responding to the economic backdrop
Entain's Rob Wood.
Group profit after tax from continuing operations was GBP 28 million ($34.2 million), down GBP 63 million. Meanwhile, retail performance was ahead of expectations, with a more interactive digital experience across gaming machines and betting terminals “driving greater customer engagement."
As for BetMGM –the company's joint venture with casino giant MGM in the US–, the brand continued to perform strongly and is on track to deliver FY22 NGR of over $1.3 billion, the company said, having made $608 million in the first half of the year.
“If you go back four years, it was only really Vegas and New Jersey, now we’re in 23 States. I don’t think we’ll ever get to 50, but we’ll get close,“ said Wood of the expansion in Entain’s US operations.
Entain also announced the return of its dividend payout, with plans to pay GBP 100 million ($120 million) to shareholders in total for the financial year to December 31. It stopped the payments during lockdowns to conserve cash.
Back in July, the company stated it no longer expected net revenue growth from its online operations for the year, having previously forecast a rise in mid-to-high single digits. It now said Thursday that customers cut spending in the UK and some regions of Europe during the second quarter, “responding to the changing macro environment and inflationary fears."
That’s the sound of the half-time whistle and Team Entain were all hands-on deck creating exciting products and engaging experiences for our customers. ⚽— Entain (@EntainGroup) August 11, 2022
The first half of the year may be over, but we’re just getting started. Here’s a glimpse of our 2022 so far 🙌#ItsYourGame pic.twitter.com/jfNY11rxDK
Shares in the company rose 3% to 1347p, topping the FTSE 100 leaderboard. On the company's operating results for H1, Jette Nygaard-Andersen, CEO of Entain, commented: "We continue to make excellent progress on our strategic priorities, with momentum in our business remaining strong as a result of putting the customer at the heart of everything we do."
Jette Nygaard-Andersen CEO of Entain.
"I am delighted that more customers are choosing to play with us as we focus on providing them with even better products, engaging content and exciting experiences. This has resulted in our highest ever level of actives in H1, up 57% versus the same period two years ago," Nygaard-Andersen added. "Not only is this approach great for our customers, but it also provides us with a broader, more recreational customer base that will support more sustainable long-term revenues."
The company has also continued to expand its growth opportunities, having already announced five transactions so far this year, including the growth strategy for Central and Eastern Europe launched by the acquisition of SuperSport. As for the US, Entain's CEO said BetMGM "goes from strength to strength" and continues to demonstrate "its market leadership with a 23% market share."