ntain on Thursday reported a "strong start" to the year with growth across major online markets and continued US growth. The company also launched a group-wide employee share scheme.
The Ladbrokes owner said that in the first quarter of the year, online net gaming revenues soared 33%, taking it to more than 21 consecutive quarters of double-digit online growth. However, 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. The company also saw "strong performance" in all major markets with NGR growth of +44% excluding Germany.
Furthermore, Entain, which is also behind betting brands including bwin, Coral and Sportingbet, said that around 22,500 employees at all levels of the business can now apply to join Entain’s ShareSave plan. In the UK, where Entain has 2,885 Ladbrokes and Coral shops spread across the UK and Ireland, almost 14,000 retail colleagues can apply for the plan. By starting monthly contributions at just £5 or more, Entain plans to put share ownership within reach of everyone, including people across its international operations.
Entain said ShareSave will initially be offered to colleagues working in countries representing around 99% of its workforce, also including the Philippines, India and Bulgaria. The company said it had initially placed a £100 monthly cap on contributions. Under the terms of the ShareSave plan, employees can choose to save a monthly sum from £5 to £100 over three years. At the end of this period, they will have the opportunity to buy shares in Entain for 20% less than their market value at the start of the invitation period, which they can sell for a potential profit. Alternatively, they can retain the stock as shareholders in the company, or take their savings back.
Entain has been targeting US growth and making acquisitions, including snapping up Swedish online bookmaker Enlabs last month. Entain is currently the third-largest operator in the US behind Flutter and US firm DraftKings, offering BetMGM, a joint venture with Nevada-based casino operator MGM Resorts. Overall market share where BetMGM operates is at 19%, and as an iGaming operator for the whole of US, it has a 23% market share.
Entain CEO Jette 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," she added.