The Gibraltar-based online gambling group Party Gaming plc issued a bullish trading update as the week closed, announcing that trading since the end of September 2009 has been solid. While revenue is expected to be in line with the Board's expectations, Clean EBITDA for the year to 31 December 2009 is expected to be slightly ahead of the Board's expectations, the update revealed.
Whilst the timing and details of new regulations to be introduced in Italy and France in 2010 have yet to be clarified, the company believes these markets represent significant potential revenue opportunities for the group in the medium to long term, and Management says it plans to take full advantage of these opportunities through the launch of B2B services with strong local brands and through existing brands.
Chief executive officer Jim Ryan said: "As indicated at the time of our third quarter key performance indicators, our business has continued to perform well across the board during the fourth quarter with a return to net revenue growth across all four of our key product verticals.
"Returning poker to growth has been a key focus for us. We are pleased to see that the initiatives introduced throughout the year are now feeding through into both operational and financial performance, with increased player numbers and average net daily revenues versus the previous quarter, despite continued competition from illegal US-facing sites and the difficult macroeconomic climate.
"Our casino business has also continued to perform well on the back of new games launched on PartyCasino as well as higher jackpots, with the most recent Mega Gold jackpot paying out close to $5.0 million to the lucky winner earlier this month.
"Bingo continues to show substantial growth on the back of the Cashcade acquisition in July 2009. In sports betting, our gross win margin has benefited from a good run of sporting results and the introduction of improved risk management tools.
"Despite the challenges presented by the prevailing macroeconomic environment, we have not been distracted from the execution of our strategic plan. With the prospect of a number of new and large regulated markets in front of us, an expanding portfolio of B2B customers and a return to growth in our core business, we remain confident about the Group's prospects."
The update includes an advisory that Party Gaming has entered into a GBP 35 million three year term loan through its UK subsidiary. The loan will be used for general corporate purposes including mergers and acquisitions. The all-in cost of the loan is anticipated to be approximately 6 percent per annum based on current interest rates.