GVC Holdings to Change Its Name to Entain and Exit All Gray Markets by 2023

Posted on: November 12, 2020, 07:08h. 

Last updated on: November 12, 2020, 09:14h.

Online gaming giant GVC Holdings is changing its name to “Entain.” The operator announced Thursday that the rebrand was part of a new “sustainable growth strategy” that would also see it exit all gray markets by 2023.

CEO Shay Segev believes the new “Entain” brand (inset) will allow the company to grow in new and existing markets. (Image: Financial Times)

GVC said that currently 96 percent of its revenues come from markets that are either nationally regulated or in the process of regulating. That number will reach 99 percent by the end of the year.

“Gray markets” are countries or states that have neither explicitly banned online gaming nor legalized it, and thus a lack of clearly defined laws offer ambiguity and a theoretical loophole. Historically, online gaming operators, including GVC, have thrived in gray markets. In fact, the general lack of regulation in the early days of online gaming meant this was the industry norm.

New Markets

Today, as more and more countries license and regulate, compliance has become the watchword for operators banking on long-term stability and growth.

Under our new corporate identity, we will continue to use our unique technology platform to build on the exceptionally strong momentum that we have in our existing markets, grow into new markets, reach new audiences, enhance the customer experience, and provide industry-leading levels of player protection,” GVC CEO Shay Segev said in a statement.

GVC has been leading the charge in building a more socially responsible online gambling industry. That’s as the industry seeks to stave off the threat of tighter regulatory controls in its native UK and other jurisdictions.

50 Shades of Gray

But it was not always thus. Gray markets come in different shades, and GVC’s Turkish business, which once accounted for a third of its revenues, was decidedly charcoal in hue.

GVC offloaded its Turkish operations for free in 2017 in order avoid any potential regulatory hurdles to its $4 billion takeover of Ladbrokes Coral the following year.

But to GVC’s surprise, Turkey was a big sticking point with Nevada regulators. That came up when the company applied for licensing in the Silver State as part of its joint sports betting operation with MGM Resorts, BetMGM.

The Nevada Gaming Control Board berated the operator for its use of shady cash-collection networks and payment processors to hide transactions from Turkish financial institutions. The regulator noted that some of these networks were stealing money from GVC, but there was little the company could do because it was engaging in questionable activity.

GVC received a Nevada license, but only by the skin of its teeth.

The company wants no more close shaves. It seeks to fulfill its stated goal of overtaking Flutter Entertainment as the leading sports betting operator in the US in partnership with MGM – one of its four “key drivers of growth” set out in an official statement Thursday.

The proposed rebranding to Entain is subject to shareholder approval.