Camelot acquisitions drive 98% revenue increase at Allwyn in Q3

The double addition has had a significant impact on Allwyn, with revenue almost doubling year-on-year in Q3 to €368.4m. Earnings were also higher in the period while adjusted free cash flow was 10% higher at €336.6m.

The group purchased Camelot UK, current operator of the UK’s National Lottery, in February. This comes ahead of Allwyn taking control of the lottery in February next year under the fourth National Lottery licence.

Allwyn also acquired Camelot Lottery Solutions (Camelot LS) earlier in 2023. The US-facing business has since been rebranded as Allwyn North America to reflect the purchase. 

Reflecting on Q3, Allwyn CEO Robert Chvatal said he was pleased with progress across the group. He added that the Q3 results show Allwyn is well placed for further growth in Q4 and beyond.

“I am pleased to report that Allwyn delivered another quarter of solid financial performance and strategic progress, notwithstanding headwinds from customer-friendly sports results (which impacted the sports betting sector in general) as well as less favourable jackpot cycles,” Chvatal said.

“Total revenue increased by 98% year-on-year in Q3 2023, reflecting a steady performance in our existing geographies in addition to the significant contribution from the Camelot acquisitions that we completed in the first quarter.

“We continued to deliver solid margins and free cash flow generation, with only a limited impact of inflation on our cost base, reflecting our favourable cost structure. Our largest cost categories were directly linked to revenue and our focus on cost and capital efficiency.”

Gross gaming revenue up 98% at Allwyn

Looking at preliminary results for the three months to 30 September, Allwyn did not publish figures in full. However, it does offer an insight into revenue performance for the quarter.

Consolidated gross gaming revenue in Q3 was 98% higher at €1.92bn. Again, this was based on the whole business, including the Camelot UK and Camelot LS operations. Net revenue – total revenue minus gaming taxes and good causes contributions – also increased by 38% to €883.3m.

When excluding the double Camelot acquisition, total revenue was 1% lower at €1.01bn for the quarter. Gross gaming revenue was level at €965.2m, with net revenue declining 1% to €636.1m.

Focusing on data excluding the acquisitions, Allwyn said growth was impacted by customer-friendly sports results, as seen across the industry. It was also hit by unfavourable jackpot cycles, with jackpots for key games being won before growing to the size to attract less frequent players. Allwyn gave the example of the EuroMillions jackpot reaching a record high in Q3 of 2022. 

UK makes up almost half of Q3 revenue

Breaking down geographical performance, the UK is now the core market for Allwyn by some distance. Total revenue in the UK in Q3 was €956.5m, which was 12% lower than last year, due to weaker performance of numerical lotteries and shorter EuroMillions jackpot cycles.

The Allwyn UK will take over operations of the UK National Lottery from Camelot UK on 1 February 2024. Allwyn noted certain costs related to preparations for the transition to the new licence.

Elsewhere, total revenue in the Greece and Cyprus segment slipped 4% to €503.4m. Allwyn put this down to unfavourable jackpot rollovers, customer-friendly sports results and one-off natural events, including the wildfires that hit Greece, which impacted the availability of some points of sale (POS). 

However, Allwyn did note growth within its online channel in the region. This posted higher gross gaming revenue year-on-year reflecting stronger igaming performance and helped by the launch of new games.

There was also better news in Italy, with total revenue up 8% year-on-year to €554.0m.

Austria will be hit by loss of casino licence in Germany 

In contrast, the Austria segment reported growth, helped by a good performance in instant lotteries, igaming and video lottery terminals and casinos. Total revenue here was up 2% to €379.9m.

Allwyn, however, said the performance of numerical lotteries was somewhat weaker. This was impacted by shorter jackpot cycles in EuroMillions as well as a record rollover in the prior year. 

Allwyn also noted the next licence to operate 10 casinos in the Lower Saxony region of Germany was awarded to a competitor post quarter end. The activity is reported within VLTs and casinos in the Austria segment. The current licence ends in August 2024.

The group also noted growth in the Czech Republic, with total revenue up 6% to €123.1m. This, Allwyn said, was driven by good organic top line growth across all major products. In particular, it noted a strong performance by instant lotteries and igaming.

Finally, the US-facing Allwyn LS Group business took €46.5m in total revenue in Q3, up 12%. This was mainly due to a strong performance of the Illinois Lottery, which the business operates.

Year-to-date consolidated revenue tops €5.70bn

Allwyn did not disclose further details in terms of costs or profit. However, it did break down its year-to-date performance. Total revenue for the nine months to 30 September reached €5.70bn, again up 98% from last year’s €2.88bn.

Gross gaming revenue hiked 99% to €5.47bn and net revenue was 43% higher at €2.60bn. The group also noted that adjusted EBITDA increased 26% to €1.10bn and adjusted free cash flow 23% to €1.02bn.

Excluding the two Camelot acquisitions, total revenue was still 7% higher at €3.09bn. Of this total, €2.97bn was designated as gross gaming revenue, up 8%, while net revenue jumped 8% to €1.97bn.

Adjusted EBITDA climbed 11% to €968.5m and adjusted free cash flow 8% to €901.2m.

“Overall, despite the sector headwinds in the quarter, I am very pleased with Allwyn’s continued progress and believe we are well placed to end 2023 successfully and for the next chapters of our growth story,” Chvatal said.

Putting technology first: Alea’s push for a data-driven approach

For Alexandre Tomic, CEO and co-founder at Alea, there are two key drivers for success: technology and data. With a drive to recruit technology experts that can help to analyse Alea’s impressive player data, Tomic believes the future is in sharing player preferences and understanding which games work in which markets.

Spiffbet relaunches Helmicasino in Finland after acquisition

Spiffbet acquired the dormant Helmicasino site for SEK300,000 (£22,777/€26,552/$28,774) in November. Helmicasino was previously operated in Finland under a different licence, but shut in early 2023 amid changes to payment conditions.

Helmicasino is live again in the country under a Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) licence held by Spiffbet. The brand extends Spiffbet’s reach in Finland, operating alongside its existing and sites.

The relaunch marks the second new brand roll-out by Spiffbet in recent months. In October, the operator also launched in the Swedish market

Spiffbet said both launches were managed with existing organisation and resources. This, it adds, means that they did not significantly increase fixed costs for the Spiffbet business.

“Following up the launch of with a launch of is an offensive move in our focus on growth and increasing revenues,” Spiffbet CEO Henrik Svensson said. “In less than a month, our new agile organisation has managed to complete this launch.”

Further launches on the horizon for Spiffbet

Svensson added Spiffbet could pursue further launches over the next 12 months. However, he stopped short of saying which brands would launch and the markets they could target.

The business also counts Metal Casino, Cashmio, Supernopea, Buster Banks, Sir Jackpot, Live Lounge, Wishmaker, Goliath Casino, Bellis Casino, Turbovegas and Scandibet among its online brands.

“Hopes are high after the successful launch of,” Svensson said. “We believe that Helmicasino will be well received by both players and affiliate partners. If this turns out well, we can look forward to more launches in 2024.”

The latest launch marks a strong end to a productive year for Spiffbet. Aside from also rolling out, Spiffbet sold its game development business to Million Games back in August. The deal is worth up to SEK3.5m.

At the time, Spiffbet said the division has not contributed to its business for the past year. The segment has also been subject to a liquidation analysis.

Spiffbet also said the sale reflects a shift in focus from game development to online casino operations. Should the deal complete as expected, this would leave Spiffbet free to focus solely on running online casino brands.

Playtech and Evolution Gaming join Denmark’s Spillebranchen

Playtech and Evolution will work with Spillebranchen and its other members to promote best practice in the industry.

Spillebranchen works to create a responsible and sustainable gaming market, encouraging cooperation between gambling businesses and authorities.

Other industry members include Bet365, Betsson, Betfair, Danske Licens Spil, Entain, Kindred Group, LeoVegas and Mr Green.

“The inclusion of gaming providers such as Playtech and Evolution not only diversifies our membership, but also strengthens our voice in efforts to promote a fair, transparent and responsible gaming environment,” Spillebranchen said. 

“Their expertise and insight will be invaluable as we work together to shape the future of online gambling in Denmark and abroad.

“We look forward to the opportunities this partnership presents and look forward to a fruitful collaboration that benefits our members, the industry and the countless individuals who enjoy gambling responsibly.”

Concerns over underage gambling in Denmark

The news comes after a study last month flagged concerns over underage gambling rates in Denmark.

Published by Denmark regulator Spillemyndigheden, the study showed around 15% of young people aged between 15 and 17 have gambled.

Of those who gambled, 68% did so by placing a sports bet. Some 42% also played online casino, with an additional 21% participating in lottery and scratchcards, as well as 4% in other activities.

The report also said 35% of young people played on websites that offer skin betting. This is a feature in video games where players can win virtual items such as character outfits or new weapons.

In addition, the study found that of all calls made to the StopSpillet gambling helpline, 4% came from players under 18. This, the report says, shows people are already at risk of developing gambling-related issues at an early age.

Also last month, Spillemyndigheden issued fines to an individual for advertising illegal games across two websites. The fines totalled DKK100,000 (£11,507/€13,411/$14,530).

Games were being offered by operators without a licence in Denmark. Spillemyndigheden said the two websites linked to sites where users could gamble, even if they were registered with ROFUS, the national self-exclusion programme in Denmark. 

Only sites that do not hold a licence allow users registered with ROFUS to gamble.  

iGB Pentasia Salary Survey: Stability at last?

The end of spiralling wage growth in the sector leads the issues covered in this year’s edition of the iGB Pentasia salary survey. You’ll also learn of increased demand for specialist hiring in new markets, as well as the knock-on effects caused by delays to the UK Gambling Act review white paper.

I am pleased to present our annual salary survey report, in partnership with iGB. We’ll aim to provide valuable insights into the evolving igaming talent landscape. This year’s survey offers a comprehensive view of the industry’s compensation trends – and a glimpse into the strategies that will shape the sector’s future. 

The headline figure is that salaries across the sector have shown an overall increase of 3.98%. This shift comes in the context of the remarkable growth the sector has witnessed since 2020. This has lead to high demand for talent and corresponding wage inflation. This year’s figures reflect a maturing igaming market that is now focused on sustainable growth.

Salaries are finding their equilibrium and we anticipate this will persist. We don’t expect salaries to decrease but wage growth is becoming more closely aligned with inflation. This will provide a more sustainable and predictable environment. 

New markets, new growth

Increasingly, growth in the sector is coming from new geographic markets. Inevitably, this is where we’re seeing the majority of new roles being created. One key development is the rising activity in LatAm, with a particular focus on Brazil. The imminent legalisation of online casino and sports betting has generated significant attention across the industry. 

New markets are driving growth in gaming, says Pentasia managing director Alastair cleland

However, the demand for individuals with industry-specific experience in these regions is challenging. It’s worth highlighting that our extensive industry networks have played a pivotal role in recruiting for these roles. This underscores the importance of well-established relationships in navigating the industry’s talent landscape. 

9,000km from Brazil, the uncertainty caused by the prolonged delay in the release of the UK Gambling Commission’s white paper cannot be understated. This has had a profound impact on the industry’s ability to plan and invest strategically. 

In such times, relationship-building is of paramount importance. This is not only with staff members who may be disillusioned due to a lack of direction, but also with individuals who can contribute strategically. Building these relationships positions companies to pivot swiftly in response to changing regulations and market conditions. 

Partnering for success: The value of relationships

In this ever-evolving environment, the value of strategic partnerships cannot be overstated. This is why we’ve taken the opportunity to highlight our company values in this report. In particular, how we value relationships over transactions. 

I’m proud to head up the team at Pentasia where our commitment is to developing long-term strategic partnerships with our clients. This means we can provide a continued focused on supporting their growth. 

I hope this report serves as a valuable resource in your strategic decision-making processes – most importantly, in ensuring that talent acquisition and retention align with company objectives and growth strategies. 

Alastair Cleland, managing director, Pentasia – part of the Conexus Group

BetMGM expects to reach $500m EBITDA by 2026

BetMGM set the 2026 goal after revealing it expects to be at the higher end guidance for 2023. In the current financial year, revenue should be between $1.80bn and $2.00bn, according to CEO Adam Greenblatt.

At an investor presentation yesterday (4 December), Greenblatt detailed how BetMGM, a joint-venture by Entain and MGM Resorts International, was expecting to be self-funding from 2024 onwards.

The business sees next year as an investment period, having already proved profitability in 2023. While it expects to achieve a profitable H2 2023, BetMGM expects negative EBITDA for 2024 in what it bills as an “investment year”.

Investment plans

When pressed on how much cash was available to invest, Greenblatt and CFO Gary Deutsch would not disclose the exact amount. However, the pair said plenty of money is available to “compete and invest for growth at the highest levels”. It is also hoped the business will be EBITDA-positive in 2025.

Las Vegas is set to be a vital part of BetMGM’s plans for 2024. Greenblatt said BetMGM is positioned better than any other operator to take advantage of sports fans visiting the city.

The recent Formula One race in Las Vegas attracted more than 300,000 fans. In a record-breaking weekend, BetMGM took three times the number of bets than any other F1 contest in its history.

The event also proved to be the highest grossing weekend for the MGM Resorts arm. BetMGM now aims to utilise that demand again with the upcoming Super Bowl at the Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas. It also plans to simultaneously integrate Nevada into a single wallet platform in 2024.

BetMGM 2024: A year of expansion

BetMGM is now available in 28 markets. Greenblatt said North Carolina will be its next entry, with further opportunities in New York, Maryland and Illinois.

Aggregated by market share, Greenblatt said BetMGM is now the third largest online operator in the US. In total, it now holds a 17% market share in North America, behind only FanDuel and DraftKings.

It is understood BetMGM is now targeting long-term aggregate market share of 20%-25%. Greenblatt highlighted upgrades to its NFL platform, placing emphasis on omnichannel and new payment methods as its key drivers of player engagement and retention in 2024. The operator also recently launched in New Jersey via a partnership with Wheel of Fortune Casino.

Specialist sports data provider Angstrom, acquired by Entain in July for a deal worth over £200m, will also be fully enabled come the start of the 2024 NFL season. BetMGM expects Angstrom to “greatly enhance the depth and breadth” of the company’s sports offerings, including same-game parlays.

Greenblatt also highlighted personalisation and an enhanced cross-sell programme as aspects the company would look to leverage in order to boost its player acquisition strategy.

2023 in reflection

BetMGM’s solid year comes despite an MGM cyberattack in September. The attack forced it to shut down systems across its US properties.

MGM Resorts CEO Bill Hornbuckle said MGM had been to “hell and back”, losing $100m in revenue after the breach. However, expansion into the UK and growth in China somewhat offset the harmful financial impacts of the attack.

As a major highlight of the year, the brand’s UK launch was aided by a deal with English Premier League club Newcastle United, benefitting from an extensive presence within the club’s St James’ Park stadium. Hollywood star Chris Rock has also been recruited to feature in a range of marketing campaigns.

However, the UK launch was made in partnership with LeoVegas, not Entain. Greenblatt insisted BetMGM still represented a “strategic limb” of both Entain and MGM Resorts, citing their support as evidence of the endorsement.

MGM also saw an £8.10bn bid for Entain rejected in 2021. Hornbuckle stated no further attempts to purchase Entain would be made on a previous earnings call in February.

Kambi board exercises €2.8m share buyback

Agreed at the Kambi AGM back in June, the share buyback programme will run until 21 May 2024. Kambi said this will achieve added value for shareholders and give its board greater flexibility with Kambi’s capital structure.

Carnegie Investment Bank AB will conduct the share repurchases on behalf of Kambi. The process will take place on one or several occasions on Nasdaq First North Growth market in Stockholm, Sweden. 

Kambi said repurchases will be made at a price per share within a defined range. This price is yet to be confirmed but Kambi said the total cost of the repurchase must not exceed €2.8m. Payments will be made in cash.

Currently, there are a total of 31,278,297 issued shares in Kambi. The buyback programme will allow Kambi to repurchase up to 3,127,830 shares, equating to 10% of the entire holding. Kambi currently holds 657,992 of its own shares from prior repurchase programmes.

Ström replaces Stugemo as Kambi chair

The announcement comes after Kambi last month named co-founder Anders Ström as its new chair. This followed Lars Stugemo stepping down after almost 10 years in the role.

Ström will serve as chair until the Kambi 2024 AGM, where his appointment will be formally proposed. Stugemo remains a member of the nomination committee

In becoming chair, Ström extends his affiliation with the business he helped found. After launching Kindred Group in 1997, he co-founded Kambi with CEO Kristian Nylén in 2010.

Ström has also served as a Kambi board member since the business launched.

In other recent news, Kambi last month published its Q3 results. These made for positive reading, with Kambi overcoming the loss of Penn Entertainment to deliver year-on-year growth across divisions.

Highlights included revenue growth of 15% year-on-year, boosted by non-recurring fees in relation to Penn and Shape Games. Revenue for the period hit €42.1m.

EBITDA during the period was up 3% to €13.9m at slightly uplifted margin of 11.0%. Kambi also said net profit increased 34.6% to €3.5m.

iGB Pentasia Salary Survey: Flatlining pay, flexible work and more

Read Pentasia managing director Alastair Cleland’s introduction to the overarching trends outlined in this year’s iGB Pentasia Salary Survey here.

Rising, but slower, wage growth

Constrained budgets

Tech talent doesn’t hang about

The hybrid advantage

Delays causing uncertainty

Training: The key to sustained success

Rising, but slower, wage growth

2022’s record salary increases, with some igaming professionals commanding pay rises of 30%, now appear to be a thing of the past.

There has been modest growth of approximately 4%. However, this is likely to be commensurate with inflation so wages have largely remained stagnant.

Constrained budgets

Market conditions, resulting in layoffs earlier in the year, have also contributed towards tighter budgets and increased scrutiny over spending across all practices.

But the talent needed by the industry isn’t available without investment. Forward-thinking companies align compensation with strategic goals and recognise that attracting and retaining top-tier talent is essential for long-term success.

BROOKE PETERSON, chief marketing and growth officer for Pentasia’s parent company, The Conexus Group, SEES WAGE GROWTH SLOWING

Tech talent doesn’t hang about

Although technical teams saw heavy layoffs across all industries in January and a fresh wave of redundancies in October, it’s still a candidate’s market in igaming.

High demand for tech skills in an industry driven by technology and regulation makes securing and retaining top talent business-critical.

The hybrid advantage

The hybrid work trend has become the norm across the global igaming market, with flexibility highly valued. Companies insisting on a traditional in-office, five-day work week often find it challenging to recruit and retain staff.

Embracing a more flexible approach to work has proven to be a significant factor in engaging employees in this competitive industry.

Delays causing uncertainty

Last year, legislation spurred demand for legal and compliance talent. The prolonged delay of the UK Gambling Act review however, has left many companies uncertain about their investments.

This uncertainty not only impacts the allocation of resources. It also leaves a disillusioned workforce with limited direction and opportunities for growth.

Training: The key to sustained success

More than 60% of respondents to The Conexus Group Skills & Employment Survey felt that the biggest challenge of motivating their workforce was providing them with opportunities for professional growth, specifically around training and ongoing education.

Employees have fed back that consistent and relevant training is key to them being successful in their roles. Within the igaming market the training attracting the most interest is around risk and compliance, including responsible gambling, AML and countering the finance of terrorism, anti- bribery, anti-fraud and payment handling.

This has been confirmed by iGaming Academy, which has seen a sharp and continued increase in demand for these courses across all major jurisdictions.

Brooke Petersen is chief marketing and growth officer for Pentasia’s parent company The Conexus Group

Entain reaches final approval with Crown Prosecution Service

Final judicial approval was reached today for Entain and its historic activities in Turkey, with Dame Victoria Sharp, President of the King’s Bench Division at the Royal Courts of Justice sitting as the Crown Court at Southwark. 

The DPA relates to alleged offences under Section 7 of the Bribery Act 2010. In particular, failure by the Company to have adequate procedures in place to prevent bribery. This was in relation to Turkey and its legacy Turkish-facing business.

The DPA, which comes into effect today (5 December), fully resolves His Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC)’s investigation into the company’s activities in Turkey. The activites took place under Entain’s legacy name, GVC Holdings.

Entain’s DPA terms

Terms of the DPA are in line with the preliminary approval confirmed on 24 November. Entain has agreed to pay a financial penalty plus disgorgement of profits totalling £585.0m (€674.0m/$736.1m). It will also make a charitable donation of £20.0m and contribute £10.0m to CPS and HMRC costs.

These will be paid in instalments and will run for a period of four years. The commencement date will follow from today’s final court approval.

In a statement issued by Entain to the London Stock Exchange Group’s Regulatory News Service (RNS), Entain highlights that the group has undertaken a comprehensive review of its anti-bribery policies and procedures.

“This is the final step in a process that has hung over our business since HMRC launched its investigation into a business that was sold by a former management team six years ago,” said Barry Gibson, chairman of Entain.

“We have cooperated extensively and proactively at every stage of the process which, I am pleased to say, has been recognised by the Court. Entain has now fundamentally and profoundly changed.  We can now concentrate on the future.”

The group has also taken action to strengthen its wider compliance programme and related controls.

Where does this leave Entain?

At the time of writing, Entain’s share price was down 0.13% on market opening at 795.80p per share.

Over the the last 30 days however, the company’s share price has decreased by 137.80p. In percentage terms, this totals a decrease of 14.75 %. This leaves Entain’s prospects unclear.

Last week, investment bank and financial services giant Goldman Sachs downgraded Entain to sell from buy. This was amid concerns over business growth, particularly within its online division.

The downgrade saw Entain’s price target has slashed from 1,450p to 820p. Following recent market movements, this is already more optimistic than Entain’s current share price of 795.80p per share (5 December).

While quoting “regulatory headwinds” in its report, the wider focus is on Entain’s present issues of growth.

In highlighting “increased competition and market dynamics”, Goldman Sachs forecasts Entain’s pro-forma online growth to be negative in Q4 of 2023 and H1 of 2024. 

The Group, it added, is not expected to return to growth until the second half of next year.

Prospects uncertain

Such is this level of concern that Goldman Sachs is also cutting earnings per share estimates for 2024 and 2025. The bank says this will be approximately 30% lower than previous stated, adding that free cash flow has also deteriorated.

There is also mixed news from the US front, with BetMGM, a joint venture between Entain and MGM Resorts. While BetMGM’s CEO, Adam Greenblatt, was upbeat on this week’s investor’s presentation, Goldman Sachs picks out the ongoing issue of stagnation.

In its Q3 update, Entain said BetMGM held an 18% market share in US states. This was level with Q2 and only slightly ahead of 17% during the first quarter.

In this week’s call, BetMGM has highlighted its aim to reach 25% market share in the US by 2026, as well as delivering $500.0m (£396.1m/€462.2m) in positive EBITDA.

The business sees next year as an investment period, having already proved profitability in 2023. While it expects to achieve a profitable H2 2023, BetMGM expects negative EBITDA for 2024 in what it bills as an “investment year”.

Losing confidence

Back in August, it was also revealed that MGM was launching BetMGM in the UK without Entain. Instead, MGM is working with LeoVegas, with the international platform utilising LeoVegas’ technology and platform. LeoVegas was acquired by MGM Resorts last year for $604m.

While Entain reported a record H1 2023, its Q3 update showed online net gaming revenue growth had slowed to single figures.

Not long after this, Entain chairman Barry Gibson and CEO Nygaard-Andersen significantly increased their shareholdings. The chair’s spouse, Brenda Gibson, also increased her holding in Entain from 41,902 shares to 57,434. 

In addition, senior independent non-executive director Stella David secured a further 95,025 shares and non-executive director Rahul Welde purchased 21,644 more shares.

Also in its Q3 trading update, Entain unveiled Project Romer. This set out a goal of reaching an online EBITDA margin of 28% by 2026 and 30% by 2028.

To achieve this, Entain plans to simplify the group to improve operational leverage and drive cost efficiencies. This will include making cross cost savings of £100.0m by 2025.

ESPN Bet to debut in North Carolina with PGA sponsorship deal

ESPN Bet is expected to launch in North Carolina after agreeing a deal to become the Quail Hollow Golf Club’s official betting operator.

After launching across 17 states on November 14 to coincide with Thanksgiving week, Tuesday’s (5 December) announcement sets up ESPN Bet to be one of the 12 operators licensed in North Carolina.

This follows the North Carolina State Lottery Commission announcing that it is now starting the application process for sports betting licences from 1 December. The state is expected to open in the first half of 2024.

ESPN Bet’s agreement with Quail Hollow Club, a golf course in North Carolina, will see the company become the official betting operator of the Wells Fargo Championship.

The PGA Tour event has been previously won by Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy and is held at Quail Hollow Club.

In a press release on Tuesday, Benjie Levy, head of Penn Interactive, pointed to increased fan engagement and player acquisition as two of the main benefits the deal will bring.

“We are thrilled to partner with Quail Hollow Club and the Wells Fargo Championship as we prepare to bring our new online sports betting brand, ESPN BET, to North Carolina,” Levy said.

“Along with market access, we’re excited to sponsor the popular Wells Fargo Championship and look forward to working together with our new partners to create unique fan activations.”

Johnny Harris, president of Quail Hollow Club, stated: “We welcome the upcoming launch of regulated online sports wagering in North Carolina and are extremely pleased to partner with a leading gaming and entertainment operator in PENN Entertainment.

“PENN’s compelling online sports betting brand ESPN BET, cutting-edge technology and extensive operational expertise make them an ideal long-term partner for this industry.”

ESPN Bet: The launch so far

ESPN Bet is the result of a $1.5bn (£1.2bn/€1.4bn) deal earlier this year between Penn Entertainment and Disney-owned ESPN.

Penn’s rights to the ESPN Bet brand will run for an initial 10 years, though there is the option of a decade-long extension.

The launch is Penn’s pivot away from Barstool Sportsbook, sold back to Barstool Sports founder Dave Portnoy back in August.

In a recent interview with iGB, Mike Morrison, vice-president of ESPN’s sports-betting arm, was delighted with the “really smooth” November launch.

“We’re thrilled. Everything is working very well,” Morrison explained. “Some of the early reviews we’ve seen are really good. Teams are energised and excited on both sides.”

Despite heavy expectations, Morrison believes ESPN Bet is thriving under the pressure, saying: “We’re surely in a position where we want to be very successful here. We are, by our natures, competitive and excited on high levels of achievement.

“You have a lot of what we’ll call Type-A personalities on both sides and we desire to be successful here.”

North Carolina expected to be competitive market

With the 2024 opening of online betting in North Carolina getting ever-closer, ESPN Bet is the latest operator to make its move.

In November, bet365 announced a deal to become the official betting partner of the NBA’s Charlotte Hornets. BetMGM and Fanatics are also rumoured to be among those competing for the 12 licences available in the state, as well as US giants DraftKings and FanDuel.

Operators have a deadline of 27 December to get their applications submitted, with the licensing and vetting process not expected to be completed until after the Super Bowl in February.