GVC Holdings sets out its strategy for conscientious gambling

FTSE 100 listed gambling company, GVC Holdings (LON:GVC), announced on Thursday that it would be implementing a ‘Sustainability Charter’, with the Group stating their view that “the most sustainable business in our industry will be the most successful business in our industry”.

As part of this drive for conscientious gambling, the company has what it describes as five cornerstones. The first of these is an ‘exclusive focus on regulated markets’. At present, 96% of its revenues come from markets that are nationally regulated or regulating. But by the end of 2023, it has committed to having 100% of its revenues come from regulated markets – which means it will be ‘exiting markets in which there are currently no viable paths to regulation’.

The second cornerstone will be ‘taking the lead on responsible gambling’. For this, the company said it is launching its Advanced Responsibility and Care programme, which it says will proactively implement additional checks on customers, as well as monitoring and interventions.

Third, GVC Holdings talked about ‘embedding responsible gambling into remuneration’. In this, the company said that from 2021, it would incorporate a responsible gambling metric into its annual group wide bonus conditions.

Fourth, the company committed itself to ‘pursuing the highest standards of corporate governance’.  The Group says that it now has a corporate governance structure and policies that befit its status as a FTSE 100 company. It added that it remains committed to bringing greater diversity to the organisation, and that further changes ‘will be made on the board’s membership in due course’.

Finally, it talked about ‘investing in our people and local communities’. The company said it has a record of taking on and retaining the ‘best people in our industry’, and also contributing to the wider communities it operates within. GVC Holdings said on Thursday that it was launching the Entain (new company name) Foundation, which it said was committed to donating £100 million over the next five years, to causes including its own ‘Pitching In’ programme, which ‘supports grass roots sports and sports people’.

Commenting on the adjustments, the GVC Holdings statement said:

“These new actions and initiatives are unquestionably the right thing to do for the long-term, but in the short-term they will inevitably come at a cost.  The actions outlined above will reduce EBITDA in 2021 by some £40 million but this is offset by strong underlying growth in our business, as set out below.”

Company CEO, Shay Segev, added:

“Today marks an exciting new chapter for the Group, and an important step forward in achieving our ambition of being the world leader in sports betting and gaming.  Under our new corporate identity, we will continue to use our unique technology platform to build on the exceptionally strong momentum that we have in our existing markets, grow into new markets, reach new audiences, enhance the customer experience, and provide industry-leading levels of player protection.

We are absolutely committed to pursuing the highest standards of corporate governance, to providing outstanding career development opportunities for our colleagues, and to supporting the communities in which we operate. Our clear strategy of prioritising sustainability and growth will allow us to achieve these goals, thereby providing long-term value for all of our stakeholders.”

Overall, today’s announcements represent positive shifts in the Group’s corporate culture, but there are further measures that can be introduced in future. For instance, the company could consider offering larger contributions to gambling support organisations, or committing funds to enterprises which would help it offset the carbon from its operations.

However, reflecting broader market demand for sustainable and conscientious business, the GVC Holdings Sustainability Charter illustrates the company’s intention to move with the times. Reflecting the cost of these new measures, the company saw its shares drop by around 2% on Thursday.