he issue has been dragging on since May last year when Rank made its bid to acquire the 23 bricks-and-mortar venues operated by Gala Casinos in the UK, along with the Gala Coral subsidiary’s three ‘cold’ licenses.
The original agreement would have seen Rank take over 57 UK venues along with a 44 % market share, but this proposal ran into trouble with the Office of Fair Trading, which referred the matter to the Competition Commission on fears that it would ‘substantially reduce competition in the casino sector.
The Competition commissioners ruled that the take-over could only proceed if the Gala operations in Aberdeen, Stockton-On-Tees, Bristol and Cardiff were excluded…and Rank would have to dispose of a cold licence it held in Edinburgh before it could acquire the Gala venue in that location.
Cold licenses are those where an operator holds the right to operate a casino in a particular area even though the premises are not currently active. In the Rank case, it has off-loaded its cold licence in Edinburgh to Global Gaming Ventures, the Commission reported.
Rank will now go ahead with the purchase of 19 casinos and three cold licences from the Gala Coral Group following the conditions outlined by the Competition Commission.
In addition to its extensive online and mobile gambling products, Rank will ultimately own 54 operating land venues and 12 non-operating licences although Gala Coral’s venues in Aberdeen, Bristol, Cardiff, Stockton-On-Tees and Gibraltar along with its non-operating licences for Westminster and Dundee.