Legalized sports betting’s rapid U.S. expansion shows no signs of slowing, which has led to a bullish prediction by Shay Segev, CEO of Entain PLC. The leading European sports betting and gaming operator is a 50% owner of New Jersey-based BetMGM.
Segev believes Entain’s sports betting product – jointly owned with casino giant MGM Resorts International – could become “the clear No. 2” wagering site in the U.S. by the end of 2021.
“We’re quite confident in our position,” Segev said in an interview with CDC Gaming Reports Thursday, the day after the company – formerly known as GVC Holdings – began trading on the London Stock Exchange under its new name.
“We’re the only operator utilizing our own proven technology, not a third-party system,” Segev said. “With (that and) the customer base provided by the (MGM Resorts’) MLife program, we have a tremendous reach.”
In the 31 months following the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark ruling, sports betting has become legal and regulated in 19 states and Washington D.C. Another six states are expected to launch in 2021.
Half of the U.S. states are already in the fold, but operators believe a vast opportunity continues to present itself. The three largest states in terms of population – California, Texas, and Florida – could see legal sports betting efforts increase, while New York is still on the mobile sports wagering sidelines.
“The market is booming and it’s accelerating faster than anyone thought,” Segev said. “It shows that the demand for legal sports betting had been there for many years.”
Entain and MGM Resorts jointly own Roar Digital in a 50-50 partnership that began in 2018 through a $100 million investment by each company. Roar Digital, which operates BetMGM, had more than $370 million of investable capital as of July, following a combined $450 million investment by Entain and MGM Resorts.
The funding was to help fuel Roar Digital’s U.S. sports betting and igaming expansion.
BetMGM is currently live in seven states – Tennessee, Colorado, Indiana, Mississippi, Nevada, New Jersey, and West Virginia. Segev expects that number to grow to 20 states by the end of 2021.
“We are firmly on track to be the leading operator in the U.S., as well as in many other newly regulated markets that are now opening around the world,” Segev said.
In a statement Thursday, Entain said BetMGM had completed its best three operating months in the U.S. through November, including its launch in Tennessee on Nov. 1 that was “its most successful go-live yet, with revenues already ahead of that in more established states.”
Segev said “there is a barrier to entry” in the competitive U.S. sports betting market for newcomer companies. He believes “four or five” brands can create a strong national presence, while smaller operators can create space in a specific state.
“Our global and domestic presence puts us in a great position,” he said.
The market, Segev said, continues to evolve, noting the positioning of both DraftKings and FanDuel. Meanwhile, Caesars Entertainment is in the process of acquiring William Hill in a $3.7 billion deal, Bally’s Corp. is expanding through the acquisition of Bet.Works and a media partnership with Sinclair Broadcast Group, and Penn National Gaming and Barstool Sports are moving beyond just Pennsylvania.
“We have a great strategy, and we’re out to prove our product,” he said.
Segev also counted Nevada as a growth market, capitalizing on MGM’s presence on the Strip, where the company operates 10 resorts.
“In the US, we invested in building the right building blocks for the BetMGM platform to grow,” he said.
Segev, 44, took over as Entain’s CEO in July. A member of the company’s board, he had previously been its chief operating officer since March 2016. An Israeli citizen, he joined the then-GVC after working in executive roles with two European online gaming operators, Gala Coral and Playtech.
The company strengthened its U.S. presence when the company’s board added former Isle of Capri CEO Virginia McDowell in 2018 and former Caesars Entertainment government affairs executive David Satz in October.
In November, Entain moved its head of regulatory affairs, Martin Lycka, to the Roar Digital offices in New Jersey and tasked him with the responsibility for expanding the company’s licensing and regulatory structure in the U.S.
In addition to its U.S. objectives, Entain is looking to bring BetMGM to Latin America and Canada. Canadian lawmakers are considering a bill to repeal the country’s ban on sports betting, while the province of Ontario is looking at legalizing igaming.
Entain operates several European online gaming brands, including bwin, PartyPoker, Ladbrokes, Coral, and FoxyBingo.
Howard Stutz is the executive editor of CDC Gaming Reports. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @howardstutz on Twitter.