Internet Bingo Big Moneymaker For Rank Group

For Britain’s Rank Group internet bingo has been more profitable than its land based counterpart. The merits of internet bingo were further emphasized after Rank said that a cold snowy January had cost the company 3 million pounds on revenue at the company’s land based bingo halls. Winter is traditionally a good time for internet bingo operators as players opt to not venture out in the cold weather to bingo halls. Rank said their operating profit from internet bingo was 11.4 million pounds, slightly more than was generated by the company’s live bingo halls.

A majority if Rank is owned by Malaysia’s Guoco and reported a 4% decline in pretax profits to 31.3 million pounds in the six months leading up to December. Ranks Blue Square betting business has been a drag on the company. During the last two weeks many parts of Britain have experienced heavy snow and some fear the bad weather will hurt economic activity and push the country into a recession. Pub groups Enterprise Inns and Mitchell & Butlers said the winter weather had hurt business. Rank Chief Executive Ian Burke told reporters “Allowing for the slow start to the second half we remain confident in our prospects for the remainder of the year and in our longer-term growth strategy.”

Rank’s main business activities are in the UK where the company operates 35 Grosvenor Casinos and more than 100 Mecca bingo clubs. Rank also has an internet bingo site using the Mecca brand. Profits in the company’s internet bingo sector mirrors the rest of the gambling industry in Britain. Online betting is the fastest growing part of the British gambling market and growth has been fueled by the use of smartphones and other mobile devices.

Rank said it is reviewing the future of Blue Square the company’s struggling online betting business. Burke stated “We felt the losses were not losses we could continue to sustain.” Blue Square reported an operating loss of 4.8 million pounds and Rank has stopped spending money on marketing the business. Burke explained and said “There were 11 or 12 competitors advertising and that spending just wasn’t cutting through.” Rank is currently waiting for a decision by regulators for the 205 million pound purchase of Gala Coral’s casinos. A preliminary report by the Competition Commission said that Rank would have to sell six casinos to get the purchase approved.