The gambling group GVC Holdings, which is the parent company of the likes of Ladbrokes and Coral, has officially changed its name to become Entain PLC. It is not the first change of name that the company has undergone, starting life in 2004 as Gaming VC Holdings before becoming GVC Holdings six years later.
The decision to change names was first mooted in November 2020, with the move officially going through the following month. The FTSE100 company’s shareholders overwhelmingly approved the move to rebrand, with 99.9% of them voting to do so at an extraordinary general meeting.
What The Change Means
In real teams, the change of names doesn’t actually mean all that much. The program previously termed GVC Affiliates have become Entain Partners, whilst the group’s main website has changed. Otherwise there’s just lots of marketing chat from Entain PLC, discussing the idea of it being a ‘revolution’ that ‘dares to change the face of gambling’.
In truth, customers of the company’s biggest sites won’t immediately notice anything different, given that they will still operate in exactly the same way as before.
The reasoning behind the rebrand isn’t exactly clear, though it’s entirely possible that it is mostly just about the company attempting to distance itself from previous fines and issues in grey markets, which the group now saying they will now only work in regulated territories with a strong focus on responsible gambling.
The current review of gambling being undertaken by the government is likely to have encouraged the decision to make the alteration, with the powers that be at Entain PLC perhaps considering the likely changes that will be introduced as a good chance to start a new era. GVC Holdings were, after all, fined a number of times by the UKGC.
One thing that the new Entain PLC board is keen to make clear is that the rebrand is being accompanied by a strategic shift. The company’s new Chief Executive Officer, Shay Segev, is behind a push to move out of all unregulated markets. The aim is to see 99% of its revenue come from regulated markets, which would increase from 96%.
The company hopes to have 100% of its revenue come from regulated markets by 2023, which it will achieve by exiting markets that don’t have a visible path to regulation. There’s also a hope that Entain PLC will be able to improve the record that it has on responsible gambling, using technology to protect customers.
The idea is also to incorporate responsible gambling initiatives into renumeration where possible. The shortfall of that will be a £50 million hit to the company’s underlying profits next year. Segev himself believes it’s an ‘exciting new chapter’ for Entain PLC, with the long-term ambition to be the ‘world leader in sports betting and gaming’.
Growth Coming From Four Areas
Whilst the short-term will see a hit to Entain PLC’s profits, the long-term aim is to see the company grow in four different areas. The start of this includes Entain PLC becoming the leading operator in the United States of America, which will be achieved courtesy of the joint venture with BetMGM. That has an estimated market share of 18% across the states that is already active in.
The next area the company hopes to see growth is in the core markets where there is ‘substantial headroom’ for development. That, combined with entering new markets will ensure an ability to keep growing courtesy of organic opportunities. New audiences, meanwhile, will be reached courtesy of new technology-enabled forms of entertainment, including new betting markets.
The likes of eSports and digital gaming are both believed to be areas that Entain PLC can take advantage of, with strong online trading already seeing the company rescued from a £37 million hit that they had to endure because of the lockdowns around the world during the global pandemic. Full year EBITDA guidance remains in the £770 to £790 million range.
‘Exceptionally Strong Momentum’
Shay Segev has pointed to the ‘exceptionally strong momentum’ that the company has built up this year as something that Entain PLC hopes to build on. He said,
“Under our new corporate identity, we will continue to use our unique technology platform to build on the exceptionally strong momentum that we have in our existing markets, grow into new markets, reach new audiences, enhance the customer experience, and provide industry-leading levels of player protection.”
The launch of the new player protection programme, which takes advantage of technology to head off problem gambling before it takes hold, is also being seen by the company as a way of ensuring its continued growth. Problem gambling is one of the hottest topics in the industry at the moment, being part of the reason why the government has launched its review into gambling and the likely changes that are due to bring the ‘analogue’ Gambling Act of 2005 in the digital era.
A statement from GVC said,
“These new actions and initiatives are unquestionably the right thing to do for the long-term, but in the short-term they will inevitably come at a cost.”
The short-term cost will hopefully be offset by the strong trading that Entain PLC’s subsidiaries have seen in October and November, with the company yet to confirm how December is looking. It’s also likely that next summer will also see profits improve as we’re set for a cornucopia of sport.
The likes of the delayed European Championship and the Summer Olympics shifting to 2021 will mean that people will doubtless hit their betting accounts in record numbers. This will go alongside Segev’s desire to pursue the ‘highest standards of corporate governance’ in ensuring that the name change to Entain PLC is just the first step on the journey towards a better future for the company.