Sports betting is beginning to return ‘in-line with expectations’ as live sports resume across all markets, said Barry Gibson, Chairman of GVC.
Making his first public statement as Chairman, Gibson praised the COVIbetting group’s ability to respond ‘swiftly’ to the closure of its UK retail estate following government-imposed lockdown measures.
The GVC Chairman also lauded the operator’s ability to meet its target of operating as a cash neutral company throughout the lockdown, and remained encouraged by the ‘early signs as customers return to the high street’.
Gibson said: “While it is disappointing not to be able to hold a physical AGM for shareholders, safety is, of course, paramount as we continue to follow government guidelines to manage the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the Board looks forward to getting together in person with shareholders later in the year at a shareholder engagement forum in the UK, regulations permitting.
“As sports events were cancelled and retail outlets were closed in mid-March, GVC responded swiftly and decisively achieving our target of operating at cash neutral through the period. We also increased our financial flexibility through a relaxation of the covenants on our Revolving Credit Facility.
“Throughout the period our online gaming businesses continued to trade strongly, and as we see the resumption of sporting events across our business our sport volumes are returning in-line with expectations.
“Our retail outlets in England have now been open for a little over a week, albeit with extensive social distancing measures in place, and we are encouraged by the early signs as customers return to the high street. As a result, GVC is well-positioned to emerge from this period in a position of financial and operational strength.”
Gibson reiterated the work that the betting group has carried out to ensure that it maintains a high standard of social responsibility and corporate governance across the business, highlighting the work that has been carried out to best protect punters.
GVC, which resecured its FTSE100 blue-chip status last month, expressed that while the economic outlook across the world remains uncertain, the betting group remained optimistic about GVC’s long-term prospects.
Gibson continued: “We continue to embed the highest standards of governance across the business as an integral part of our day-to-day activities. Providing our customers with products and services that they can use in a safe and enjoyable environment is our guiding light, as well as protecting the small number of those customers who may be at risk.
“We are constantly evolving and improving our safer gambling policies, procedures and technologies. As ever, we are committed to working closely with regulators to ensure that any changes in legislation will be evidence-based, carefully considered and focused on good outcomes for customers, improving player safety and limiting problem gambling, rather than knee-jerk decisions that could end up inadvertently damaging player safety.
“While the economic outlook around the world remains uncertain, the resilience of our performance during this hugely challenging period and the extraordinary loyalty, dedication and hard work that our teams around the world are showing mean that we remain as confident as ever in GVC’s long-term prospects.”