We don’t think many of them will be built because with the government’s increase in the casino tax last year a number of those potential locations are marginal," Rank’s Chief Executive Ian Burke told reporters.
"We are interested in a small number... small in the context of 16 could be under 5, yes"
On the other hand, the company blames the smoking ban, taxation and regulation for a 3% decline in revenue for the year ending December 31, 2007. Rank’s revenue fell to £534.4 million, while operating profits were down 7% to £68.3 million.
The company’s two largest arms, Mecca Bingo and Grosvenor Casinos, were also down on 2006, which it says was partially due to increased rates of casino gaming duty introduced in April last year. The group says it is opening outdoor gaming areas to accommodate those who smoke.
Burke commented: "The combination of regulatory changes, structural increases in game duty and the ban on smoking in public places had a negative effect on the group at a time of weakening consumer confidence."
Rank’s bingo clubs have also been hit by the forced removal of nearly 1,000 slot machines and an unexpected hike in tax. Burke says he expects 2008 to be a "challenging year" for the group.