Entain, one of the biggest names in sports betting – particularly in the United Kingdom – has reportedly ‘set aside’ almost £600 million in anticipation of a record-high fine. This news comes following allegations of bribery within a Turkish betting organisation that Entain (then GVC Holdings) owned from 2011 to 2017. This fine would be made payable to HMRC, and if it’s ordered, it’ll be the second-largest fine of its kind to ever surface.
It stems from a case involving Sportingbet, a Turkish online betting platform that Entain sold in 2017. It’s alleged that Entain failed to prevent bribery from taking place in the business, and said bribes enabled the organisation to succeed – which exacerbated the situation. It has been more than six years since Entain sold the business, but it’s still responsible for this fine, given that the reported malicious behaviour occurred when Entain owned Sportingbet.
Will Entain Pay The Fine?
It’s fully expected that Entain will pay something to HMRC, but it’s not yet known how much. Originally, experts and analysts estimated that a fine worth £200 million could be levied against Entain, but the organisation’s own financial experts believe it’ll be much more than that. This fine is being ordered as part of a DPA – a ‘Deferred Prosecution Agreement’ – which is operated by the Serious Fraud Office in the United Kingdom.
In a statement, Matt Britzman, an equity analyst at investment firm Hargreaves Lansdown, said:
‘The business in question was sold over 6 years ago by a former management team, so drawing a line under this and moving on is something the new team, and investors, have been keen to do … Following a complete overhaul of our business model, strategy and culture in the past few years, the Entain of today bears no resemblance to the GVC of yesterday.’
Also speaking on the ongoing discussion between the SFO and Entain, Chairman Barry Gibson stated:
‘We are pleased to be making good progress towards drawing a line under this historical issue, which relates to a business that was sold by a former management team of the group nearly six years ago.’
It was said that every Entain manager involved in the original ownership of Sportingbet has since departed the company and that this is a legacy concern at the moment.
In the last six months, Entain has gone from strength to strength, securing a 13% increase in revenue that saw £2.38 billion produced from a record number of online users across Entain’s platforms.
The SFO has a strong track record with DPAs – it has successfully sued the likes of Tesco and Barclays in the United Kingdom in the last few years. At this point, only time will tell if Entain will also pick up a monumental fine.