Ladbrokes Collects $140m in COVID-19 Relief Funds as Profits Rise

Posted on: January 7, 2022, 06:22h. 

Last updated on: January 7, 2022, 02:23h.

Ladbrokes hasn’t taken a major financial hit from the COVID-19 pandemic. However, this hasn’t stopped the betting operator from accepting huge contributions from the UK’s relief fund.

Ladbrokes shop
One of many Ladbrokes shops in the UK recovering from COVID-19 stoppages. Despite the improved online performance, the company has accepted millions of dollars in government relief funds. (Image: The Guardian)

In spite of the endless COVID-19 problems plaguing the world, the online gaming segment has survived. Not only has it survived, but some companies have reported record profits. One of these is Entain, which saw revenue in 2020 of £3.6 billion (US$4.87 billion).

That figure was the same as the year prior and resulted in a profit of £114 million (US$154.3 million). 2021 brought more growth, with revenue increasing by 8%.

Any company with a clear sense of morality would immediately hand this money back to the UK taxpayer,” stated Gambling Related Harm All Party Parliamentary Group vice chair Iain Duncan Smith.

It’s surprising, then, that Ladbrokes, an Entain-owned company, would need to request substantial government handouts to weather the COVID-19 storm. The BBC reports that the company accepted £57.5 million (US$78 million) in 2020, and then added another £44 million (US$59.6 million) last year. Perhaps it was looking to save itself from a US$800,000 scam.

Ladbrokes Enjoys a Strong Online Presence

The BBC asserts that the total amount taken is one of the 20 largest claims for 2021. While the operator didn’t break any laws in accepting the money, questions are sure to be raised.

Entain made it clear last year that the Grand National was a huge success for the company. It said that its UK brands saw “record-breaking betting volumes. This should have countered some of the impact of the forced closure of some of Ladbrokes’ land-based shops.

William Hill received some but returned £24.5 million (US$33.16 million) in August 2020. Betfred took in £28.1 million (US$38 million) and its Done Brothers (Cash Betting) Ltd. subsidiary received “between £18.5 million and £37.5 million (US$25 million and $50.7 million) from Dec 2020 to May 2021.” The exact figure isn’t known, since only a range was provided.

Betfred’s profits during the period reached £205 million (US$277.6 million).

Flutter Entertainment and its Paddy Power operations avoided requesting any handouts.

“The furlough scheme was a sensible and highly welcome policy intervention that helped us, as one of the country’s largest retailers, to maintain the livelihoods of more than 14,000 retail colleagues on full pay,” an Entain spokesperson told the BBC, “Whilst the virus is still with us and the outlook, although improving, is still far from certain, the Board will continue to keep the situation under review.”

UK Gaming Operators in Good Company

The phenomenon of productive gambling companies taking relief money isn’t isolated to the UK. Last December, it was shown that Australia’s Crown Resorts accepted $281 million (US$208 million) and Star Entertainment accepted $157 million (US112.17 million).

Crown’s take was second only to Qantas. The airline received $856 million (US$611.35 million).