Rank Unveils Electronic Bingo Games

Rank Unveils Electronic Bingo GamesThe Rank Group is a major player in the UK bingo and casino industry. Rank operates Mecca bingo halls and Grosvenor casinos throughout Great Britain. In addition Rank has a major online bingo operation using the Mecca brand. Rank has been innovative and has invested millions of pounds refurbishing their casinos and bingo halls to appeal to a new generation of players. Recently the company unveiled its first electronics only bingo hall. Rank hopes to attract the new generation of bingo players including men in their 20’s. Although the bingo halls are still dominated by female players more men are discovering bingo and the ratio of women to men make the halls even more attractive for men.

Rank introduced the trial of electronic bingo at its venue in Reading. At the Reading hall bingo is played on electronic devices similar to iPads. The electronic games require less concentration than traditional games where players must mark their cards manually. Rank’s chairman and chief executive Ian Burke said the devices make the games more enjoyable and allow players to eat and chat while playing. Mr. Burke said that Rank still believes that the game with its traditional and colorful calls such as Two Fat Ladies, Gandhi’s Breakfast and Duck and a Crutch will be around for some time to come the new electronic games will introduce the game to a new generation of players.

During the first half of the fiscal Rank’s player numbers grew 4% to 1.1 million. Most of the increase was from the immense popularity of online bingo. During the six months to December 31st Mecca’s revenues from online bingo increased by 11% to £30.4 million. Revenue from bingo halls dropped 1% to £115.7 million. Rank believes that there are opportunities to take advantage of the popularity of online bingo by expanding digital gaming at its land based venues. Mr. Burke stated “The electronic gaming has definitely got an appeal to the under-35s” and added that men in their mid-20’s have been attracted to bingo on the digital devices.

Rank believes that the new format could possibly attract a “more even gender mix.” Players tap on the screens when numbers are called and there is a feature that allows players to catch up if they missed some numbers. Burke stated “Electronic gaming offers all sorts of additional benefits to players. I wouldn’t describe our handheld devices as an iPad, but it’s the same principle. Like many people, three years ago I would never have imagined iPads being as popular or as successful as they are. A lot of people love the tactile aspect of playing bingo with paper and pen and I imagine that will be around for a long, long time to come. But playing bingo electronically is much more akin to playing it on the internet except it’s done in a social and community setting.”

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