Bingo Hall Slump Pressures Rank Group

UK bingo and casino operator Rank Group were in the news regularly earlier in the year. Throughout the summer there were numerous news reports about the proposed takeover of Rank by Hong Kong based investment group Guoco. The talk and rumors have since died down but recent bingo news reports indicate that Rank suffered a slump in business during the summer months. For both internet bingo and live bingo operators the summer months can be difficult since many players abandon regular bingo games in favor of outdoor activities and holidays. For years summer has been difficult for most operators and most cut back on advertising and marketing expenses during the summer. Once fall comes around the ball starts rolling again and most operators report increased sales during the fall and winter months.

There are 99 Mecca bingo halls throughout the UK and Mecca is one of Rank’s biggest brands. Mecca has suffered a 3% decline in player attendance at their bingo clubs. Although the figure is not high given the summer slump the decline will be viewed negatively. There was some good bingo news When Mecca announced that spending per customer had risen by 2% offsetting some of the summer slump losses. Rank has warned investors and shareholders that the coming year may be challenging for the gaming giant.  Rank was pressured further by weakness in the company’s Spanish operations. The economic outlook for the UK and Europe remains bleak and many consumers are cutting back on unnecessary spending. In a statement published by Reuters Rank stated “Difficult economic conditions and the effect of the full smoking ban continued to affect trading in our Spanish business.”

There was one sector that provided Rank with some much needed good news. The online and mobile bingo market is growing and has helped Rank to survive in difficult economic times. For many land based gaming companies maintaining an online presence is crucial for the survival of many companies. The online bingo market is seen by many economic experts as recession resistant and fills consumer demand for inexpensive home based entertainment. The Rank Group is well positioned in the internet bingo and mobile bingo markets and will help Rank to remain competitive. Rank is also expanding its presence in the highly lucrative casino market. The casino market has experienced an increased number of visitors and Rank is expanding its casino venues. Although the future does not look bad for Rank the loss of live bingo players will still put pressure on the gaming group.