Ladbrokes sets aside £585m to settle HMRC inquiry
The owner of Ladbrokes and Coral has taken a £585m provision to settle a HMRC bribery probe related to its former Turkish business, which it had sold back in 2017
Entain, the firm behind Ladbrokes and Coral, remains in negotiations with HMRC over a deferred prosecution agreement, which would be paid over a four-year period.
While a court will still have to approve the terms of the agreement, Entain has said it had a ‘sufficient degree’ of confidence to take a provision of £585m against a potential settlement. It is likely to be approved by the end of the year.
HMRC originally launched an investigation into ‘potential corporate offending’ back in 2019, related to a Turkish-facing online betting and gambling business that Entain owned between 2011 and 2017.
It later accused Entain, formerly known as GVC, of failing to have the correct procedures in place to prevent people from taking part in bribes that benefit the business.
Entain then sold the business in Turkey, where online betting is not regulated, to help secure clearance to buy Ladbrokes and Coral.
But questions emerged about the sale, with a report published in 2017 suggesting it had been sold to a friend of then-CEO Kenny Alexander.
The gambling firm, which also operates online brands bwin and partypoker, said it expects core profit for the year to range between £1bn to £1.5bn, up from £993m in 2022.
It reported a 14% rise in net gaming revenue for the six months through June, helped by a record level of online active customers.
Chairman Barry Gibson said: ‘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.
‘We have been working closely with the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) throughout this process, and they have recognised our extensive cooperation. Following a complete overhaul of our business model, strategy and culture in the last few years, the Entain of today bears no resemblance to GVC of yesterday.’
Entain added that it had undertaken a review of its anti-bribery policies and procedures and strengthened its compliance programme following the launch of the investigation.