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Entain Expands into Central Europe

Already one of the world’s largest betting operators, thanks to an excellent portfolio of brick-and-mortar premises and online sites – many of which offer some of the best free bet offers around – Entain now looks set to expand its operation still further.

The owner of a string of major brands including Coral, Ladbrokes, bwin, PartyPoker and Sportingbet, the London Stock Exchange listed company has hit the industry headlines once again, courtesy of a big move into central Europe.

Having already splashed out £729m on the Dutch company BetCity in June 2022, Entain have now set their sights on the Croatian market.

£600 Million Deal

Joining forces with the Czech-based investment firm EMMA Capital to create Entain CEE – with Entain owning 75% of the new company – the betting titan has negotiated a £507m deal to purchase a majority stake in Supersport. Based in the capital of Zagreb, Supersport boast a share of the domestic betting market which already exceeds 50%. Now falling under the powerful Entain umbrella, hopes will be high that this share can be built upon significantly.

That projected positive performance has been structured into the purchase agreement, with the final £93m of the price being dependent upon Supersports earnings in the current financial year.

This latest deal continues the recent expansion strategy of Entain, following the purchases of Latvian firm Klondaika and Polish operator Totolotek, and a successful venture with MGM which has granted the company a firm footing in the booming US market.

Positive Performance in Difficult Times

That Entain are able to employ such an expansive strategy amid a seemingly unfavourable global financial climate may come as a surprise to some. There is however an old maxim that the gambling industry is one of the most recession-proof of all, and Entain at least seems to be proving that adage true.

Bolstered by a highly impressive rebound in the much-maligned retail outfits, Entain’s first half results saw a 19% increase in net gaming revenues, with performance in the UK and Italy being particularly strong.

The picture wasn’t entirely rosy though, as following a sequence of expansion in 23 quarters up to the end of 2021, the company reported a fall in digital gaming revenues. This drop-off can likely be easily accounted for by a lifting of lockdown measures around the world, heralding a shift of punters from online, back to the high street. It does nevertheless illustrate that Entain – and the industry as a whole – can’t afford to take their eye off the ball, particularly in the face of a looming cost of living crisis and more stringent affordability checks in the UK.

The company are of course acutely aware of these difficulties; an extract from a statement to its investors reading, “The current economic pressures, increasing rates of inflation and increasing energy costs are a cause for concern for many consumers,” and, “Whilst the group considers itself as relatively resilient to the impacts of economic pressures, it is not immune. The directors continue to be vigilant of the economic backdrop.”

With this latest acquisition and the company’s impressive record of consistent success, Entain is better placed than most to ride out the financial turbulence.


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