Online Bingo Boosts Rank Group’s Profits

Rank Group which operates Mecca bingo halls in the UK has reported that the company’s online operations are responsible for a rise in profits. In addition to onlingo bingo Rank also operates the Grosvenor casino brand and the Blue Square online betting site. When the smoking ban was imposed in 2007 attendance at bingo games fell dramatically and to remain profitable Mecca went online to remain profitable. Increased online activity helped Rank to boost profits by 9%. While visits to the company’s 97 bingo clubs fell by 1.7% during the year the company’s online operations posted a 25% increase in underlying profits. Ranks online bingo site Meccabingo.com was responsible for the increase in bingo and gaming revenues.

Currently one fifth of Rank’s revenues are generated online or by mobile devices. Last year Mecca increased its marketing budget and launched a mobile application. In contrast profits from Grosvenor’s digital offerings “remains subscale.” This year Rank has plans to make several games available on Facebook. The firm says that social networks provide several opportunities for growth. Rank shares were up by 6% and Rank boosted its final dividend by 35%. Rank profited from its Grosvenor casinos. The company has spent millions refurbishing clubs to the G-Casino brand designed to attract young players. Group wide profits totaled £61.5 million over the year. Mecca has seen business decline at its land based operations despite efforts to attract new players.

To attract younger players Mecca launched ‘after dark’ sessions aimed at those under 35. Revenues at Mecca were slightly higher after the company encourages players to spend more on the revamped food and drink offerings. Sales were also increased after the introduction of handheld tablet computers that monitor bingo tickets to ensure that players never miss a called number. Grosvenor casino sales increased four straight years in a row and revenues were up 4% and underlying profits were 11%. Currently Grosvenor operated 35 casinos throughout the UK and is on track to become the UK’s largest casino operator once the £205 million deal to buy Gala Coral’s 23 casinos is completed.

The nine casinos converted to the G-Casino format saw average per visit spending of £31.35 compared to £30.52 at the company’s traditional casinos. The popularity of Mecca and Grosvenor online helped the company to enjoy a 21% increase in revenues. Rank Chairman Ian Burke stated “While the current economic conditions remain challenging we have continued to increase the popularity of our brands and we look forward to the future with optimism.”

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