Bye, Bye Barry, The Man Who Almost Saved Entain’s World


Amid the chaos and churn of its recent travails, the bad dice keep tumbling for troubled UK gambling giant Entain.

Barry Gibson, the man who almost saved Entain’s rapidly-shrinking world, is to step down from his role as Chair by, or before, this September, the company announced today.

Money markets welcomed the news with Entain shares bouncing 3.32 points to 7848.4 GBX by mid-morning trading before falling back.

Gibson, a highly-respected industry figure, almost succeeded in bringing Entain back from the brink after the infamous Turkish AML scandal when the FTSE100 Omnichannel was operating as GVC Holdings under the leadership of then-CEO Kenny Alexander, who now heads-up FS Gaming Investments.

Gibson will be replaced as Entain Chair by the current acting-CEO Stella David, who replaced the fired Jette Nygaard-Andersen in December, while the hunt for a new permanent corporate leader continues.

Barry was appointed to the Entain Board in November 2019 and became Chair in February 2020, with the express task of cleaning-up the damage caused by the Turkish money laundering scandal and other corporate missteps.

Honour

Under his watch GVC Holdings–owners of storied UK betting brands bwin, Coral, Ladbrokes, PartyPoker, Sportingbet, et al–was renamed Entain; Jette Nygaard-Andersen was appointed CEO–becoming the first woman to lead a major listed gambling company–and BetMGM, Entain’s sportsbook and iGaming joint-venture with MGM Resorts International, turned the corner to profitability.

“Barry has played an integral role in the transformation from GVC to Entain, which has included a significant improvement in the quality of the Group’s operations, revenues, governance processes, and procedures,” Entain said in a media statement announcing his impending departure.


“He has also overseen the renewal of the Board, the Group’s focus on operating only in regulated or regulating markets, and the resolution of the HMRC investigation into the Group’s legacy Turkish-facing operations.

“During his tenure, the Group has grown its EBITDA by over 50 percent to approximately £1 billion in 2023, and its US joint venture, BetMGM, has gone from a start-up to being a US$2 billion revenue business with a strong market position and outstanding growth prospects.”

Crisis

Yet at the end of the day the seismic impact of Entain’s historic GVC Turkish money laundering scandal, which led to a massive £615 million (US$778.59m) financial penalty settlement with British revenue authorities earlier this year, and his backing of Nygaard-Andersen’s controversial acquisitions spree, did for him — and brought Entain to the brink of existential crisis, where break-up or sale may be the only viable outcome.

“It has been a privilege to lead the Board of Entain for the past four years,” said Gibson (pictured above).

“And while I have thoroughly enjoyed my time at this dynamic, exciting and innovative business, I reflected a little while ago that 2024 would be the right time for me to retire.

“I am delighted that, in Stella, Entain has an exceptional successor who knows the business well and has already proven herself to be a firm hand on the tiller in her role as Interim CEO.”

He leaves the wounded gaming leviathan with his honour and reputation intact and soubriquet as: “The Man who almost saved Entain’s world.”

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