The performance also illustrated the flexibility and agility of our Entain Platform. We are clearly a growth business and, in fact, we have delivered nine consecutive years of double digit growth in our online business. But what is important is that this growth is profitable growth with our EBITDA up by 5% in the year.

Our people are a core part of our amazing Entain platform and I would like to thank each, and every one of them for their dedication, hard work and professionalism in helping to achieve these results.

During the year we made great progress on our two strategic pillars of growth and sustainability. In our core markets we continue to grow strongly supported by our strategy to broaden our appeal to a wider customer base which saw our actives grow by 25% in the year.

M&A remains an important part of our growth strategy and we have a strong pipeline of potential transactions that will deepen our presence in existing markets, grow our footprint into more regulated markets and support our growth into new products and categories.

Our diversified business model is expanding with 7 transactions to grow our global footprint delivered over the last fourteen months. These transactions include the acquisition of Enlabs in the Baltics, that also provides us with a springboard into other markets in the Nordics and Eastern Europe. More recently, the acquisition of the Sports Interaction brand, a leader in Canadian sports betting, fits neatly into our business, complementing our existing presence and ambitions in that market. M&A remains an important part of our growth strategy and we have a strong pipeline of potential transactions that will deepen our presence in existing markets, grow our footprint into more regulated markets and support our growth into new products and categories.

In the US, BetMGM has outperformed our expectations and delivered phenomenal growth. We are the leader in iGaming in the US. While we are number two across sports betting and iGaming we are getting ready to challenge for the number 1 spot. Successful recent launches in New York, Louisiana, Puerto Rico and Illinois have enabled BetMGM to hit the ground running in 2022, and we expect continued success throughout the rest of this year.

It is the ability of our people to adapt to changing external factors and, more importantly, to anticipate, as well as respond to, evolving customer wants, needs and behaviours that is the mark of our success. Entain’s purpose is to bring moments of excitement into people’s lives and we do this by having the most engaging offer, being inquisitive, and constantly looking at different ways customers engage with gaming and entertainment. I am pleased to report that we have already started to take steps to deliver interesting and engaging video and other content for customers. With further plans for our customer experience ahead, we will further broaden our appeal that will help drive engagement, increase loyalty and cross sell and reduce acquisition costs.

Our commitment to innovation is an important part of our future growth. As such I am delighted that we will shortly be launching our Ennovate Hub in London. This will be a cornerstone of our £100 million investment in the tech talent of today and the technologies of tomorrow. I look forward to updating you on the next stage of our innovation journey in future Entain Engage updates.

Our ability to deliver profitable growth is firmly rooted in our environmental, social and governance (ESG) priorities, delivered through our Sustainability Charter and underpinned by our belief that the most sustainable businesses are also the most successful. As a result, we have established ourselves at the forefront of sustainability in our industry with recognition across a number of indices as well as earning numerous awards. Just last month, Entain was named in the prestigious Dow Jones Sustainability Index for 2021 – the only sports betting and gaming operator to be included – which is a real demonstration of the progress we are making. We are also immensely proud to have won Socially Responsible Operator of the Year at the SBC Awards North America, which evidences our progress so far in delivering growth for the business, in a sustainable and socially responsible way.

Player protection is a critical component of how we operate and we are delivering ground-breaking improvements through our Advanced Responsibility and Care programme (ARC™). Our initial trials of ARC™ have been great, with results showing a risk assessment accuracy of over 80%, a 120% uplift in the use of safer gambling tools by those most at risk and a 30% overall reduction in customers increasing their risk levels.

Our efforts to remain the safest and most trusted operator for our customers has been a key element of our success. In leading the industry in this critical area, as well as across the ESG landscape, we are setting a path that I am pleased to see that that others in our industry are starting to follow.

We have made great progress in 2021 and I am delighted all my colleagues’ hard work has received the recognition it deserves, especially in being awarded ‘Operator of the Year’ by EGR, as well as being recognised as one of the most admired companies in 2021 by Management Today. This is a particularly prestigious accolade by a well-respected global publication that has recognised Entain’s diversity, energy and enthusiasm.

Things move fast in our business, they always have done. It is part of what makes us who we are. We are a FTSE 100-listed, world-leading entertainment company with immense organisational agility. Our unique Entain Platform and globally diversified business model powers everything we do, and we are still on the journey of fully realising all the benefits that the competitive advantage that our unique model can deliver.
Going forward, we have significant growth opportunities ahead of us set to expand to over $160bn over the medium term, providing us with the opportunity to at least triple the size of our business.

We are in an exciting industry and Entain is a fantastic place to work with huge potential evidenced in last year’s financial performance, and we will continue that performance into 2022. We are redefining the industry and bringing it into the future, and I look forward to working with all our stakeholders as we progress on our ambition as a global leader in betting, gaming, and interactive entertainment.