In this first episode of a new series, IR Magazine looks closely at how IR practices are conducted at some of the world’s most successful companies – but ones that make money in unconventional ways, starting with gambling conglomerate Entain.
The $7.2 bn international sports betting and gambling company is a household industry name, owning popular brands such as Ladbrokes, PartyPoker and Sportingbet, with its income predominantly coming from consumers.
While the business flourishes from its offering, gambling companies are often criticized for being addictive and harmful to consumers’ health. As part of the firm’s mission to ensure safe play, Entain’s head of IR Davina Hobbs says the company is always evolving its protection for customers.
‘Rather than trying to maximize things in the short term, it’s very much about that long-term growth opportunity through the industry and through our customers and how they’re enjoying our products in a safe, protected manner,’ she says.
Looking at some of the misconceptions people may have about a gambling company, Hobbs says the idea of gambling operators ‘wanting people to spend as much money as possible’ is a false narrative.
‘We want customers to stay with us and engage and enjoy the experience they’re having with us. We are very much focused on recreational customers who are engaging with our products across the spectrum,’ she points out. ‘I think there are different views and sometimes the whole industry gets labeled negatively, but there really is a spectrum of what people are doing and which operators are going about things very, very differently. I think that is important to draw out.’
Breaking the mold
One of the biggest concerns investors are focusing on right now is the sustainability of companies, whether they are ‘doing their bit’ to help ease climate and governance issues. Entain is breaking the mold in this space.
Sophie Platts, group head of sustainability, going by the mantra that the ‘most sustainable business in our industry will be the most successful’, shares how Entain has been on a mission to level up its commitments in this space and help set the bar for industry standards.
‘We’re really trying to set a higher standard through our initiatives, like only operating in regulated markets – which we’re the only operator to commit to – and be responsible about regulation,’ she says.
Conversations with shareholders, however, seem to focus less on ESG measures being introduced and more about what they mean and how they will be implemented.
‘It’s not a pushback [from investors] – it’s more [a case of] what does that mean, globally, as we roll out and expand our business into new countries,’ Hobbs says.