Gala Coral expect to close bingo clubs

Gala Coral, the UK’s biggest bingo operator, has announced that it will probably close 12 or 13 of its bingo clubs if the smoking ban, introduced of July 1, has the same harsh effect it had on the bingo halls in Scotland.

The closures will see the loss of hundreds of jobs although the locations of the clubs have not been revealed. However, Neil Goulden, chief executive for the company, maintains that the closures will not occur until the end of the year when he believes it will be easier to judge the conditions in the market. After that period, Goulden believes the market will then begin to pick up again.

"We will wait for six months and see where we are. We are going to get a drop in spend-per-head. But it is only temporary... Spend-per-head will recover within 12 months,” said Goulden.

However, Goulden still fears the immediate effects of the ban.

"We could have 200 bingo clubs closing. This could mean an enormous number of job losses and loss of amenity to local communities,” Goulden speculated.

The smoking ban led to many closures of bingo halls in Scotland and caused a fall in revenues of as much as 15 per cent at some halls. Mecca Bingo, Gala’s closest rival, has already announced the closure of a handful of its halls.

Meanwhile, Gala Coral have signed a five year, £25 million IT deal with BT. The deal will see BT become Gala’s exclusive provider of its IT and communications systems. Gala expect that the deal will result in "significant cost savings and efficiencies" as the group’s communication system is merged into one network.

Editor, - 2007-06-11 11:37:39

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