he bingo, casino and online gaming firm, said that, in the six weeks to October 12, like-for-like revenue rose by 5 %, reflecting the passing of the anniversary of the introduction of the Gambling Act in September 2007 and actions taken to address its negative effects. However, in the 41 weeks to October 12, like-for-like sales had declined by 8 %.
Rank was hit hard last year by both the Gambling Act and a smoking ban. Those factors, along with the economic downturn, led to a sharp decline in attendances. The group said like-for-like sales at its 102 Mecca bingo clubs declined by 12 % in the first 41 weeks with admissions down 12 % and spend per head level with the same period the previous year.
In the six weeks since the start of September, like-for-like revenue grew by 2 %, with an 8 % rise in spend per head offsetting a 5 % decline in admissions. Rank said Mecca had benefited from the granting of licensing permission for 83 adult gaming centres located within Mecca Bingo properties, of which 64 are operational. That has enabled it to increase the amount of B3 high jackpot gaming machines that it operates to 660 from 406 at the start of the year.
However, the Gambling Commission is currently reviewing its guidance to local authorities over the centres. Rank said trading at its 11 Top Rank Espana bingo clubs had continued to be affected by difficult economic conditions. At its 34 Grosvenor Casinos, like-for-like revenue fell by 3 % over the 41 weeks, but was up 14 % in the last six weeks of the period.
Rank’s sports betting and online gaming business, Blue Square grew revenue by 1 % during the 41 weeks, with a strong performance from meccabingo.com offsetting an 11 % decline from sports betting.
Shares in Rank have outperformed the FTSE All Share Travel & Leisure Index .FTASX5750 by 3 % since the start of the year, with concerns over the consumer downturn overshadowed by takeover speculation following stake building by Asia-based Guoco Group, which now has a 24 % holding.