Sports betting is starting to return ‘in line with expectations’ as live sports resumes across all markets, GVC chairman Barry Gibson said.
In making his first public statement as Chairman, Gibson praised the capacity of the betting group to respond ‘swiftly’ to the closure of its UK retail estate following lockdown measures imposed by the government.
The GVC Chairman also lauded the ability of the operator to meet its goal of operating throughout the lockdown as a cash-neutral company, 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 stressed the work that the betting company has undertaken to ensure that it maintains a high level of corporate governance and social responsibility across the business, emphasising the research that has been done to better protect punters.
GVC, which resecured its blue-chip FTSE100 status last month, reported that although the global economic outlook remains unpredictable, the betting community remained positive about GVC’s long-term prospects.
Gibson added: “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.”