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Stars Group, William Hill and GVC Holdings provide coronavirus updates

By Iqbal Johal

The Stars Group has declared it is performing ahead of expectations so far this year, despite the worldwide impact of the coronavirus.

The operator said its UK segment, which includes the Sky Betting & Gaming brand, has continued strong underlying momentum in Q1 2020, while international revenue is slightly ahead year-on-year, on a constant currency basis.

While The Stars Group CEO Rafi Ashkenazi was happy with performance so far, sustained or further postponement of major sporting events will naturally affect short-term sports betting revenue.

The outbreak, which has seen nearly 175,000 reported cases worldwide, has led to the entire football league, from the Premier League down to League Two, suspended in England until at least early April, along with other major European leagues.

However, William Hill has said the impact of the virus is expected to reduce group EBITDA by £100m to £110m ($122m-$135m) for the year, citing the fact that last year 53% of its revenue was generated through sports betting.

The operator is also suspending its dividend until further notice, saying its 2019 final dividend will not be proposed at May’s AGM.

William Hill CEO Ulrik Bengtsson, said: "We are taking action to maintain our operational capability, to secure and enhance our liquidity and to ensure we are in a strong position to resume full operations when the sporting calendar returns to normal."

Meanwhile, GVC Holdings has estimated EBITDA will be reduced by approximately £130-150m for the year if major sporting events are cancelled.

If UK shops are closed, EBITDA would incrementally reduce by approximately £45-50m per month.

GVC CEO Kenny Alexander said: "While we do not underestimate the challenge presented by Covid-19, GVC is in a robust position to manage the impact on our operations."

Earlier, Flutter Entertainment posted a similar forcecast, expecting a £90-110m reduction in group EBITDA.

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