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Ladbrokes owner Entain eyes metaverse with new innovation hub

Randy Mancini 9 Jan 31
FILE PHOTO: A Ladbrokes shop in Harpenden
FILE PHOTO: General view inside a Ladbrokes shop in Harpenden, Britain, March 18, 2020. REUTERS/Peter Cziborra

January 31, 2022

(Reuters) -British gambling firm Entain Plc said on Monday it planned to develop products for the metaverse with an investment of up to 100 million pounds ($134 million) in a new innovation centre.

Entain, which owns Ladbrokes and Coral betting shops as well as the bwin and partypoker online brands, said the innovation hub would be called Ennovate and some 40 million pounds of investment would be earmarked for the UK.

“As media, entertainment and gaming converge, customers expect richer experiences, with greater variety of content, immersive experiences, personalisation, and social interaction,” Entain said in a statement.

“We want to … pioneer innovations in sport, gaming and interactive entertainment for the metaverse,” Entain Chief Executive Officer Jette Nygaard-Andersen added.

The metaverse, where people can interact in online virutal worlds using headsets, has become a buzzword in technology and business, with companies from Facebook to Microsoft having announced plans to build products for the metaverse.

London-listed Entain said Ennovate’s first “lab” will launch in the spring in the Farringdon area of London and will be open to people to try out new interactive gaming experiences.

Verizon and BT will partner Ennovate for 5G support, while Entain will tie up with Theta Labs to launch a non-fungible token platform for partypoker customers.

($1 = 0.7440 pounds)

(Reporting by Sinchita Mitra and Sachin Ravikumar in Bengaluru; Editing by Rashmi Aich)