Rank in Talks to Purchase Gala Coral’s Casinos, Gala Will Focus on Bingo and Bookmaking

In the United Kingdom bingo is big business. In addition to having one of the largest markets for land based bingo the UK is also home to the second largest online bingo market in the world. Long considered an integral part of British culture the game is no longer considered the domain of pensioners and seniors. The largest land based bingo companies in the UK are Mecca Bingo, which is a part of the Rank Group, and Gala bingo owned by Gala Coral Group. In addition to land based operations both companies have launched internet bingo sites. Mecca entered the internet bingo industry a few years ago to boost flagging revenues. In addition to British operations Rank is a major player in the Spanish bingo industry and owns 11 bingo clubs in Spain.

Recent reports from the press and bingo news sources say that Rank is planning to offer £250 million pounds ($393,125,001.54 USD at current exchange rates) to purchase the casino division of rival Gala Coral.  If the offer is successful Rank will become the largest casino operator in the UK by merging its 35 Grosvenor Casinos chain with Gala’s 24 gaming outlets. The venerable British newspaper the Sunday Times said that talks between the two gaming giants are at an advanced stage and may be completed in time for Rank’s interim results to be released on February 9th.

The acquisition will speed up Rank’s plans to have 45 Grosvenor casinos by the end of 2015 through a faster implementation of the company’s G-Casino format which is designed to attract a younger, less formal clientele. Currently Rank employs over 3,000 people at its casino and bingo operations and all but four of its casinos are located outside of London. The sale of Gala’s casinos will allow the company to focus on its extensive Gala bingo operations including internet bingo. Gala will also focus on its Coral bookmaking operations. The sale will strengthen Gala’s finances and the company had a net debt figure of £1.3 billion at the end of 2011.

Analysts say that Gala has been ripe for a break up since debt restructuring in 2010 left lenders with shares in the company fueling speculation that Rank would attempt to purchase Gala’s casino operations. Rank is majority owned by Guoco the investment vehicle of Malaysian billionaire investor Quek Leng Chan. Rank has over 100 Mecca bingo clubs located throughout the UK.