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Entain PLC targets central Europe as online growth slows

Entain PLC (LSE:ENT) has announced the acquisition of SuperSport, the leading sports bookmaker in Croatia, as the first step of a major expansion in central Europe.

Sports betting in central Europe is already worth £5bn and growing at 10% a year, said Jette Nygaard-Andersen, Entain’s chief executive, with SuperSport the first of a series of expected deals as it acts as a consolidator in a region where operators lack scale.

The deal, costing €600mln plus up to a further €90mln, was announced as Entain saw post-tax profits drop in the first half of 2022 as the online business slowed following the end of Covid lockdowns.

The Ladbrokes, Sportingbet and Foxy Bingo owner had already warned that mobile and internet trading had become tougher and online revenues fell 7% to £1.5bn in the six months to the end of June 2022.

A strong recovery at its retail betting shops offset this with ex-VAT revenues overall rising by 9% to £2.1bn.

BetMGM, its US joint venture, remains on course for net gaming revenues of US$1.3bn this year, said the statement.

Underlying profits rose by 17% to £471mln and for the full year Entain expects profits in a range of between £925mln-975mln, which is in line with reduced earlier guidance.

After-tax profits dropped to £28mln from £63mln.

Nygaard-Andersen highlighted that the half saw the highest ever level of active gamblers, up 57% from two years ago, adding the group continued to make “excellent” strategic progress.

An interim dividend of 8.5p was announced, which will be half of this year’s annual payout in a new policy going forward.

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