Winter World Cup betting spree fuels £1bn profit at Ladbrokes owner

The owner of the gambling brands Ladbrokes and Coral has raised its annual profit forecast after it benefited from customers betting on the men’s football World Cup.

Entain said it had seen a record number of customers in the final three months of 2022, an increase of 14% compared with a year earlier.

Despite the boost from the tournament, which took place in Qatar in November and December, Entain said this was slightly offset by disruption to some sports fixtures because of wintry weather.

The company, which owns betting shops as well as the bwin and partypoker online brands, said its total net gaming revenues rose by 11% between October and December, compared with a year earlier.

As a result, Entain said it expected to make a pre-tax profit of between £985m and £995m for the full year. This was up from a previous forecasts of between £925m and £975m, which would mean an increase in profit of about 12%, compared with a year earlier.

Online net gaming revenues climbed by 12% in the final quarter, compared with a year earlier.

However, the company said its full-year online net gaming revenues fell by 1% year on year as it was affected by regulatory changes in the UK and Germany.

At its Ladbrokes and Coral betting shops, Entain said its retail net gaming revenues were 66% higher for the year, with volumes above pre-pandemic levels.

Investors reacted positively to the trading update, with Entain shares up more than 2% on the FTSE 100 at lunchtime on Wednesday.

Entain said it had been successful in its attempts to widen its appeal to customers.

Jette Nygaard-Andersen, its chief executive, said the company had experienced “strong financial, operational and strategic progress” in 2022.

Entain said it had started 2023 with “good momentum” and it was confident growth would continue.

The results come less than six months after the company was told by the Gambling Commission to pay a record £17m settlement over failings at its retail and online businesses to follow rules to tackle addiction and prevent money laundering.