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Kindred Group update on the initial impact of COVID-19

George Miller

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Kindred Group plc - Interim report January – March 2020 (unaudited)
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In light of the exceptional circumstances caused by COVID-19, Kindred is providing the following updates.

Trading update

Kindred has had a good start to the year with gross winning revenue for the first quarter of 2020 estimated to be in the range of GBP 247-252 million (Q1-2019: GBP 224.4 million) unaudited. The gross winning revenue was positively impacted by strong sports betting margins in the period up the disruption of sports in the middle of March 2020. Despite this, the margin before free bets was 12.2 per cent for the quarter, compared to 9.7 per cent in the first quarter of 2019.

The full impact of cancelled sports events was largely effective from 16 March 2020, which resulted in lower sports book turnover, however partially compensated by solid growth in revenues from other products. As a very short-term indication, during the period 16 March to 31 March 2020, the daily average gross winnings revenue was GBP 2.2 million, which was 10 per cent lower than the average for the full year in 2019 (11 per cent in constant currency).

Update on dividend for 2019

Kindred has a good financial position with strong liquidity and low leverage. However, due to the uncertainty caused by COVID-19 and to ensure that Kindred is well capitalized for future investment opportunities, the Board has decided to change the previously communicated proposal on the 2019 dividend and will recommend to the AGM that no dividend is paid.

Operational update

Kindred has taken steps to protect employees and to ensure continuity of operations by adjusting ways of working so that, wherever possible, employees work from home. As a modern technology-based company, this has been achieved with minimum disruption to the business. Kindred is also working closely with all its partners to continue to provide an attractive sports and racing offer where possible and to be ready for normalized levels of sport activity.

Henrik Tjärnström, CEO, comments:

“We expect the impact of the coronavirus on our business to be temporary, with sports activities gradually resuming during or after the summer. In order to reduce the earnings impact of temporarily lower sports revenues, we will adapt our cost base through reduced levels of marketing spend, lower operating costs and delaying certain investments.

While the current situation presents several challenges, I remain very positive about Kindred’s future outlook. Kindred will continue to benefit from a wide geographical reach and a broad product mix as well as a business model which has been resilient during previous times of economic downturns. I also believe that the social and behavioural changes that are already happening will accelerate the migration from offline to online, which will benefit digital operators like Kindred. Our focus on player safety and care for our customers will naturally continue with the same dedication.”

Quarterly Results Presentations

Kindred will publish results for the first quarter on 24 April 2020. The results presentation and Q&A session will be available through webcast as usual. The previously planned physical meeting at Regeringsgatan 25 in Stockholm will not take place. The arrangements for the results announcements for subsequent quarters will depend on the relevant advice from public authorities.

 

About Kindred Group:

Kindred Group is one of the world’s leading online gambling operators with business across Europe and Australia, offering over 26 million customers across 11 brands a great form of entertainment in a safe, fair and sustainable environment. The company, which employs about 1,600 people, is listed on Nasdaq Stockholm Large Cap and is a founding member of the European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA) and founding member of IBIA (International Betting Integrity Association). Kindred Group is audited and certified by eCOGRA for compliance with the 2014 EU Recommendation on Consumer Protection and Responsible Gambling (2014/478/EU).

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Video: Presentation of LeoVegas by CEO Gustaf Hagman

George Miller

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Video: Presentation of LeoVegas by CEO Gustaf Hagman
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Presentation of LeoVegas by CEO Gustaf Hagman. The first quarter, the situation today and an outlook.

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Impact of COVID-19 on Virtual Gambling Sector: ConnectPay Calls to Fortify Payment Security as Industry Fraud on Rise

George Miller

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Impact of COVID-19 on Virtual Gambling Sector: ConnectPay Calls to Fortify Payment Security as Industry Fraud on Rise
Reading Time: 2 minutes

 

Online gambling has increased during the pandemic. Evidently, so did the illegal activity related to the industry. Scammers are abusing the vulnerability of the circumstances, which is reflected by the rise in financial fraud and exploitation schemes. ConnectPay, an online banking service provider, encourages businesses, especially the ones considered to be higher-risk, to make the security of payment transactions their top priority in order to build trust with new and existing clients, and protect them from falling victim to fraudulent payments.

Illicit activity concerning monetary transactions has been a long-standing issue for the virtual gaming industry even prior to the pandemic, with financial crime estimated to be at $2.1 trillion per annum. That said, the COVID-19 crisis has brought new challenges as new fraud schemes started to plague various markets. This has influenced some countries, fearing an increase of illicit activity in online gambling, to issue tighter measures for the vendors to protect consumers during the lockdown.

“The increased online gambling sessions correlate with the noticeable jump in payment transactions”, explained Liutauras Varanavičius, Head of Business Development at ConnectPay. “When comparing data from January with the stats from April, we have noticed a 30% increase in gambling-related transactions. Even though it’s hard to predict how prolonged will the aftermath of the pandemic be, the necessity of instating more precautionary measures to support secure payments is too apparent to be left unaddressed.”

The surge of online gambling activity has greatly increased the public’s exposure to digital risks. While others are capitalizing on the crisis, businesses have to face the conundrum on how to disassociate from the perpetrators, remain credible and retain their target audience.

“The spike in fraudulent financial activity could hit the sector even harder than others: it’s already under a magnifying glass due to the nature of acquired revenue, thus any association with financial fraud could be leveraged as a pretext to revoke acquired licenses and restrict business”, said L. Varanavičius.

As the global health crisis continues, the need for reliable security measures and prevention of illicit financial flows will only continue to grow. Implementing timely and adequately prepared safeguards to combat arising threats is paramount, as, until brick-and-mortar casinos are once again operational, gambling industry relies on digital-only vendors.

Preserving secure payment transactions could be the difference between remaining operational or having to close up shop. The pandemic has already hampered AML supervision and presented new threats that could aid criminals in avoiding customer due diligence. However, having acknowledged current obstacles enables businesses to evaluate measures that would help avoid being juxtaposed with illicit activity and choose partnerships accordingly.

To keep the scammers at bay, ConnectPay continuously invests in innovative fraud prevention solutions, latest AML safeguards and other smart tools, helping companies in underserved markets to maintain credibility and keep the associated risks to the bare minimum. Furthermore, the company places high emphasis on a thorough screening process: this prevents taking on clients involved in unethical business practices, limiting the grounds for financial fraud. In 2020, ConnectPay is planning to invest additional 750 thousand euros in Anti Money Laundering and Counter-Financing of Terrorism compliance solutions.

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International Game Technology PLC Releases Notice of 2020 Annual General Meeting and 2019 Annual Report and Accounts

George Miller

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International Game Technology PLC Releases Notice of 2020 Annual General Meeting and 2019 Annual Report and Accounts
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International Game Technology PLC announces that it has today published its Notice of the 2020 Annual General Meeting (“AGM”) and 2019 Annual Report and Accounts for the period from January 1, 2019 to December 31, 2019. IGT provided information for the AGM, which will be held at IGT’s Registered Office, Marble Arch House, 66 Seymour Street, Second Floor, London, W1H 5BT, on June 25, 2020, at 3:00 p.m. British Summer Time (BST).

The Notice of the AGM and the 2019 Annual Report and Accounts can be found in the Investor Relations section of www.IGT.com, along with IGT’s 2019 Annual Report on Form 20-F. These materials can be viewed online and are also available for download in PDF format. IGT’s 2019 Annual Report on Form 20-F was filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on March 3, 2020 and is accessible at www.sec.gov.

2020 AGM and COVID-19  

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic and in line with latest UK Government’s measures to restrict travel and public gatherings of more than two people, the AGM will be restricted to two attendees (for example, the Chairperson and one other Director), both of whom will be shareholders for the purposes of forming a quorum, in addition to the usual supporting staff, reduced to a minimum and bound to the strictest observance of the Governmental recommended precautions. The Company advises that other shareholders must not attend the AGM in person. Any other shareholder above the number necessary to form a quorum seeking to attend the AGM will be refused entry.

The AGM will be restricted to formal business only, and resolutions will be put to a vote on a poll. All shareholders are encouraged to vote using proxy voting in accordance with the instructions printed on the proxy form. Shareholders are strongly advised to appoint the Chairperson of the meeting as proxy to ensure their vote is counted. Details on how shareholders can vote via a proxy are available in the Notice of the AGM and in the accompanying proxy form. Proxy votes should be returned by 3.00 p.m. (BST) on June 23, 2020, in line with the requirements set out in the Notice of the AGM.

As usual, the results of voting on the proposed AGM resolutions will be published after the AGM and will be available on the Company’s website.

Shareholders can send any questions relating to the business of the AGM in advance of the meeting to the Company Secretary, International Game Technology Plc, Marble Arch House, 66 Seymour Street, Second Floor, London, W1H 5BT or [email protected]  Answers will be published as soon as possible in the Investor Relations section of www.IGT.com.

Further AGM updates  

Shareholders should be aware that arrangements for the AGM may change at short notice. The Board will keep the COVID-19 pandemic in consideration and recommend that shareholders continue to monitor the Company’s website and announcements for any updates in relation to the AGM.

 

About IGT :

IGT (NYSE:IGT) is the global leader in gaming. We deliver entertaining and responsible gaming experiences for players across all channels and regulated segments, from Gaming Machines and Lotteries to Sports Betting and Digital. Leveraging a wealth of compelling content, substantial investment in innovation, player insights, operational expertise, and leading-edge technology, our solutions deliver unrivalled gaming experiences that engage players and drive growth. We have a well-established local presence and relationships with governments and regulators in more than 100 countries around the world, and create value by adhering to the highest standards of service, integrity, and responsibility. IGT has approximately 12,000 employees. For more information, please visit www.IGT.com.

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