Entain Plc’s leadership duo of Group Chief Executive Jette Nygaard-Andersen and Deputy-CEO Rob Wood have outlined their shared objective to showcase the FTSE100 business’ innovation capabilities during 2022.
Innovation and organic growth were marked as ‘capital allocation priorities’ by Andersen and Wood, hosting yesterday’s Entain leadership conference call with investors and market analysts.
The start of 2022 saw Entain maintain its ‘M&A playbook’, executing a £200 million deal to acquire Avid Gaming, the operating company of Canadian Mohawk-licensed bookmaker Sports Interaction.
Meanwhile, in Europe, Entain conducted ‘single digit’ deals to acquire Latvian operator Klondaika and Totolotek Poland – described by Wood as ‘roll-up deals’ to support its Enlabs Baltic market’s unit and to secure a licensing guarantee for Poland.
To observers, Entain follows a proven path. However, leadership stated that 2022 would showcase the company’s prowess for innovation, underscored by the capabilities of its proprietary tech platform that carried-out successful back-to-back integrations of Ladbrokes Coral and BetMGM.
“During the year we invested £9m into our segment called New Opportunities, which currently comprises of esports and innovation,” Wood explained.
“We invested in the core business to drive organic growth. Be that capex to support our technology platform or keeping our offering fresh and relevant for customers through innovation and product development. And included in this, of course, is investing in BetMGM.”
Unveiling the firm’s 2022 roadmap, Andersen and Wood disclosed that £25 million had been allocated to ‘finding new opportunities, including the upcoming launch of esports vertical UNIKRN.
Group innovations and new product launches will be spearheaded by ‘Ennovate’ – Entain’s newly built innovation studio that will leverage AI technologies and trial virtual reality concepts.
The projects of Ennovate were deemed essential to Entain, as the company seeks to engage its brands with wider audiences and to further optimise its multi-million-pound sports sponsorship portfolio.
“Unikrn is getting ready to launch its first products later this year and our Ennovate lab will be opening shortly in London,” Andersen outlined.
“Ennovate’ will be the centre of our development of new products, experiences and services that leverage AI and VR. We’ll be trialling VR arcades on the high street later this year and look forward to updating you on their progress.
“Keeping product fresh and relevant for customers, innovating to create new moments of excitement and providing products and experiences that customers can’t get anywhere else drives loyalty and player value.”
Probed by analysts on leadership determination to showcase innovations, Andersen responded that the company had already benefited from its new focus.
Of unique distinction, she pointed to how “three in-house studios enable us to deliver innovative and exclusive games and content which we can leverage across all our brands globally. We have over 550 in-house games, with 100 games launched last year”
A new focus that has provided group-wide benefits that have seen BetMGM secure its position as the US market’s leading igaming destination.