Entain versus DraftKings: Which betting firm is better positioned for growth?

As lockdown restrictions come to an end, betting company Entain could benefit from punters returning to high street bookies. However, both Entain and rival DraftKings could capitalise on the continued opening of the US sports betting market. 

Entain [ENT.L] is one of the biggest gambling companies in the world. A member of the FTSE 100, it offers everything from online sports betting (through its betting brand Bwin), to bingo halls (Gala Bingo) and high street bookies (Ladbrokes).

Last year, Entain’s US digital competitor DraftKings [DKNG] attempted an audacious £22.4bn takeover bid for the company in an attempt to give it an instant high street presence in the UK.

That bid ended in failure, but the two companies represent something different in gaming. Along with competitors such as Penn National [PENN] and Wynn [WYNN], DraftKings’ business has surged as sports betting in the US opens up state by state. Entain targets a broader demographic through its different brands, although it does compete with DraftKings in the US with its partnership with BetMGM, the sports betting division of MGM Resorts International [MGM].

What both companies have in common, however, is a slump in their respective stock prices this year. Entains share price has fallen 8% since the start of 2022, closing Tuesday 15 March at 1,548.5, while the DraftKings share price has suffered a steeper 41.3% drop over the same period. This could represent good value for investors as both seek to cement their place in the gaming sector.

Tailwinds for DraftKings and Entains share prices in 2022

The end of lockdown restrictions could benefit Entain as punters return to high street bookies. Entains physical locations like Ladbrokes are an important revenue driver, and in January it reported that retail net gaming revenue had surged 60% in the final three months of last year.

In 2021, retail EBITDA totalled £67m, down 7% overall due to store closures in the first half of the year. Online net gaming revenue increased 13% year-on-year for Entain in 2021, its ninth consecutive year of double-digit gains.

DraftKings is primarily focused on the growing online sports betting market in the US, although it also has a number of physical casino-based locations. According to Mordor Intelligence, the online gambling market in the US was worth $2.18bn in 2020 and is projected to achieve a compound annual growth rate of 17.34% between 2021 and 2026.

In an investor presentation, DraftKings pointed to the easing of gambling restrictions in the US as a growth driver, highlighting that 10 state legislators have introduced legislation to legalise mobile sports betting this year. Notably, DraftKings increased its guidance for 2022 revenue and adjusted EBITDA after the launch of mobile sports betting in New York and Louisiana.

Entain is also targeting the US through its partnership with BetMGM. In the US, Entains net gaming revenues (NGR) were $850m in 2021, establishing 23% market share in the 21 jurisdictions it operates. BetMGM has an addressable market of around 37% of the US adult population.

Analyst calls on Entain and DraftKings

Entains full year 2021 results were solid, with total revenues of £3.8bn NGR, up 8% year-over-year, while underlying operating profits were £484.1m. DraftKings, on the other hand, posted a net loss of $1.52bn for the year, despite more than doubling its revenue year-over-year.

Victoria Scholar, head of investment at Interactive Investor, said that Entains earnings had managed to “outpace forecasts”, but noted that the company had “yet to resume the dividend” that had been paused at the height of the pandemic. Scholar notes that the company has the potential to attract more M&A interest this year, having rebuffed DraftKings in 2021.

DraftKings was the top stock pick of Morgan Stanley’s Thomas Allan at the start of March. He said that there was too much focus on short-term losses, while his state-by-state estimates suggests long-term profitability to be much larger than forecasted". Allan has a $31 price target on DraftKings.

On 7 March, Arguss John Staszak downgraded DraftKings to ‘hold’ from ‘buy’, trimming both his revenue and EPS forecasts for the company. The analyst cited competition from MGM and Wynn, and fewer states left to approve online sports betting as factors in his decision. 

Where management sees opportunity

As more states legalise online gaming, that could mean more revenue opportunities for both Entain and DraftKings. Conversely, it means there are fewer markets left to open up and, as a result, there could be less potential for future growth. Entains mix of physical and online, along with diversified businesses aimed at different audiences — such as Gala Bingo — could not only provide resilience but also growth opportunities with lockdown restrictions ended.

Either way, both companies are talking up a strong game for 2022 and beyond. Following the collapse of DraftKings’ takeover bid, Entain restated its business strategy, saying it was focused on executing its growth and sustainability agenda, which could lead to a trebling of its total addressable market to around $160bn, with US business accounting for $32bn.

However, the fall in the DraftKings share price may not be sustained, especially if it manages to increase revenues in 2022. Management seems confident, having issued full year guidance up to $1.93bn, anticipating launches in new states.

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