Rank's bingo smoking ban fears

Casino and bingo operator Rank Group PLC has announced that it has made a solid start to the year but warns that things may change once the smoking ban comes into effect in England this weekend.

Rank, which operates the Mecca Bingo chain and Grosvenor Casinos, saw like-for-like takings from bingo rise by one per cent in the first 25 weeks of the year to June 24. Even though admissions were down five per cent, there was an increase spend of seven per cent per head.

Rank’s Grosvenor Casinos saw an increase in sales of four per cent despite admissions down by one per cent.

“As a result of this revenue performance and of the cost saving measures introduced last year, the group delivered strong growth in operating profit in the period,” the company said in a statement.

Full year earnings for last year were down twelve per cent to £44.4 million.

However, Rank expects a tough period ahead with changes in taxation levels for casinos, oppressive tax structures for bingo halls and the introduction of the new smoking ban in England.

In Scotland, where the smoking ban was introduced last year, Mecca Bingo sales are down a massive ten per cent since the start of this year. Similarly in Wales, where a smoking ban was introduced this April, sales fell by five per cent.

Editor, Jackpot.co.uk - 2007-06-28 10:53:42

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