In a strategic shift towards online gambling, Entain has decided to double the number of staff at its game development studios in the UK, India, and Italy. [Image: Shutterstock.com]
Increasing online commitment
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused problems for gaming operators across the globe, with closures and restrictions impacting land-based venues. With many of its own sportsbook locations still struggling with restrictions, UK-based operator Entain has decided to shift its focus towards the world of online wagering.
new and exclusive products and experiences”
Entain, the owner of sports betting brand Ladbrokes, announced the news in a statement to its website on Thursday morning. The company intends to double down on investment into its game development studios in an effort to create “new and exclusive products and experiences” for online customers.
As part of this new strategy, Entain will double the amount of staff in its three in-house studios. The firm intends its studios in the UK, Italy, and India to have a combined total of 300 employees within a year. Its UK-based studio, CR Games, will create eight new roles to take its headcount close to 50.
Hard at work in the studios
Speaking with Reuters this week, Jette Nygaard-Andersen, CEO of Entain, said new original online content would form a vital part of the company’s strategy moving forward. “We want to give customers an expanded choice in the markets we’re already in and add new experiences to reach out to new customers,” she explained.
In its company statement released Thursday, Entain explained that this new content will include free-to-play slot tournaments. The company said more than 30,000 customers of its UK-based Coral brand entered its free-to-play slot tournament this June. It expects customers of its other brands to join over the rest of the summer.
The operator is hoping to also improve the offering of its brands elsewhere. Entain expects its Win Studios in India to develop 30 new products for its US-based wagering brand BetMGM in 2021. Meanwhile, the company’s UK studio is working on content for Baltic states gamblers after its $440m acquisition of Enlabs earlier this year.
Outside of traditional product development, Entain said it is using “immersvie technologies” to create new experiences for its customers. This includes the group’s first foray into virtual reality, which it expects to complete later in the year. The firm described the new product in development as a “multi-activity sports club.”
Online fuels pandemic recovery
Entain experienced a difficult beginning to 2021. With its Ladbrokes and Coral betting shops forced to close throughout Q1, the operator’s net gaming revenue shrunk 13% year-on-year.
Since then however, online wagering has sparked a recovery. The operator took to Twitter on Thursday to publicize its “strong first half performance:”
Although Entain has not provided specific figures, its net gaming revenue increased 11% for the first half of 2021. Online gambling fueled much of this growth, with the segment seeing a 22% increase in revenue mainly thanks to sports betting. As a result of its H1 performance, Entain now expects its full-year 2021 EBITDA to range between £850m ($1.17bn) and £900m ($1.24bn).
Nygaard-Andersen commented on the results on Thursday. She said: “Our diversified business model has enabled us to grow our business in all key markets while navigating channel and product mix changes as retail re-opens and we annualize last year’s restricted sports calendar.”