And so begins the big pullback–and perhaps the start of a great new iGaming mystery–as heavy-hitter Entain announces the equivalent of “Don’t Let Us Detain You”, with the news that it’s set to accelerate its exit from unregulated–and still undisclosed–markets.
Given that Entain already conducts well over 90 percent of its business in some 30 regulated markets, there’s arguably a healthy element of performative grandstanding to the media release; perhaps a start-the-year PR grab for the responsible gaming summit.
The company has already previously announced–in November, 2020–that it was planning to quit unregulated markets.
And, surprise, surprise, it’s refusing to discount the sleeping giant that is Brazil, even though outgoing President Jair Bolsonaro refused to sign a long-wrought bill on gambling regulation into law; while new President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva is also believed to be ideologically opposed to the joys of betting.
Still, the London FTSE-100 gaming giant has now affirmed that the end of this year, 2023, is its end-target for clearance.
Entain will “accelerate [the] process [of] exiting its few remaining markets where there is no clear path to market liberalisation via domestic regulation,” the company announced mid-week.
But it will remain: “In a small number of markets where it expects changes in regulation will enable it to obtain domestic licences in due course.”
Despite the prospect of launching a speculative guessing game, which country’s “in”, which country’s “out”, the company declined to elaborate further, “for reasons of market stability”, a spokesperson told iGamingFuture.
“As part of the profound and far-reaching transformation programme that [we have] undergone in the last few years, we took the decision in 2020 to only operate in nationally-regulated markets,” said Entain Chair Barry Gibson.
“[This] announcement is therefore a continuation of that strategy, and should be taken as a clear demonstration of Entain’s commitment to the highest standards of corporate responsibility, governance, sustainability and player safety.
“We stated at the outset that we would exit any market that wasn’t able to regulate at sufficient pace or to the right standards, and we have acted decisively to do so.
“We are proud to be leading our industry as the only global operator taking this approach of solely operating in markets where there is domestic licensing.”
Meantime, Entain–which incorporates sports brands including bwin, Coral, Crystalbet, Eurobet, Ladbrokes, Neds, Sportingbet and Sports Interaction, among many, many others, not forgetting its BetMGM joint venture in The States–has resolved its long-standing Dutch market conundrum by the simple expedient of buying BetCity from Sports Entertainment Media for the tidy sum of €450 million.
BetCity–one of the first 10 licensees when The Netherlands reset and re-regulated–has now emerged as a Dutch market leader, with 20 percent of the action.
“This transaction further underpins our growth strategy of operating in, and expanding further into, attractive regulated markets,” said Entain Chief Executive Jette Nygaar-Andersen.
Next stop, the mountain top.