Entain, one of the leading global gaming and betting operators, has been making significant moves to withdraw from unregulated gambling markets. Since November 2020, the company has been gradually exiting various jurisdictions and by the end of last year, it was operating solely in regulated markets. The completion of the initiative, known internally as “Project Sunshine,” saw Entain withdrawing from over 140 unregulated gambling jurisdictions, as reported by the Financial Times.
An internal document from the company’s compliance team confirmed that this recent withdrawal marked the conclusion of a three-year initiative. Entain has exited territories such as Vatican City and Antarctica, as well as smaller jurisdictions with populations of less than 1,000 people, including the French Southern and Antarctic Lands, United States Minor Outlying Islands, and the Pitcairn Islands. The company has also left larger unregulated markets, including Ukraine, Russia, and Argentina.
While the latest withdrawal is estimated to impact Entain’s EBITDA by £100 million ($127.1 million), the company states that it was a strategic decision to create a more sustainable and higher-quality revenue base. The company explained that the 140 markets it closed had varying revenue levels, but all were unregulated, allowing customers to bet with Entain.
Entain’s withdrawal from unregulated markets aligns with a deferred prosecution agreement (DPA) reached with the Crown Prosecution Service last year. The DPA required the company to pay $737.5 million due to bribery-related offenses committed by its former business in Turkey. In addition to the financial penalty, Entain was given 12 months to cease its operations in unregulated markets and focus solely on regulated jurisdictions.
Despite these changes, Entain remains operational in several markets where gambling regulation is expected in the future, such as Brazil, Mexico, Chile, and Peru. The company will be able to maintain its presence in these markets if they are legalized.
In related news, Entain confirmed the departure of its CEO, Jette Nygaard-Andersen, in December. She stated that with the HMRC matter settled, the company is in a stable condition.