Smoking ban still hurts Rank

Rank Group, the gaming company and operator of Mecca Bingo, are still suffering at the hands of the smoking ban with like-for-like revenues falling by 14 per cent in England and Wales for the first quarter of 2008.

Bingo attendances are also down by 13 per cent and customer spending down a further 1 per cent.

Despite the worrying trend, Rank are still optimistic for the future.

"We have achieved a degree of success in adjusting to the smoking ban and the new gaming regulations and have taken timely action to protect profits," the firm said.

"Nevertheless, we are conscious that the difficult consumer climate is likely to make 2008 a challenging year for the gaming sector."

The bingo industry has long been calling for tax-breaks from the government as bingo companies have to pay both VAT and a gross-profits tax, whereas casino firms only have to pay VAT.

The bingo industry will certainly need a helping hand or the closure of more halls will simply be inevitable.

Editor, - 2008-05-08 12:00:56

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