Thursday 15 April 2021 8:36 am

Shop closures weigh down Ladbrokes owner Entain despite online surge

Ladbrokes owner Entain saw net gaming revenue shrink in the first quarter as the closure of its bookies due to Covid-19 restrictions offset rising online revenues.

Although online net gaming revenue grew 33 per cent for the three month period – the segment’s 21st straight quarter of double digit growth – overall revenue fell 13 per cent.

Shares in the firm rose 1.1 per cent as markets opened this morning.

Entain’s betting shops, which also include brands such as Coral, have been shut for the whole of the first quarter due to the UK’s latest lockdown.

But as of Monday, they have reopened. The FTSE 100 firm’s chief executive Jette Nygaard-Andersen said Entain was looking forward to a return to more normal trading.

“In line with our expectations, the momentum from the end of 2020 has carried into 2021”, she said.

“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.”

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Across the quarter, the company also said it had completed the acquisitions of in Portugal and Enlabs AB in the Baltics.

In addition, Entain said its US joint venture, BetMGM, was now in a position to challenge for the position of second biggest sports gaming provider in the US.

At the moment the JV operates about 19 per cent of market share across the country. Third Bridge senior analyst Harry Barnick said the region was a key focus for the firm.

“Entain’s future growth now hinges on its ability to gain market share in this region. This will pose a significant challenge given the strong competition from DraftKings and FanDuel,” he said.

He also suggested that MGM could yet return to make another play for the company, having walked away from a takeover attempt in January.