Rank Fails to Attract Younger Players

In 2009 Mecca bingo operator Rank Group launched their ‘full house’ program. The full house program was designed to attract a younger more affluent group of players to Mecca’s bingo halls throughout the UK. Now after almost four years Rank has announced plans to dump the program after admitting that the results have been disappointing. Ever since the smoking ban was imposed in 2007 British bingo halls have faced hard times and many have gone out of business. To remain profitable Mecca launched an online bingo site shortly after the ban was imposed.

Rank said the program has failed to stop the ongoing decline in player numbers. Rank’s year on year revenues at Mecca bingo halls have declined 3% since last year. Rank said the company’s investments have not paid off. Rank spent about £700,000 each to remodel bingo halls in Hartlepool and Knotty Ash, Liverpool. Rank said the halls had outperformed unchanged bingo halls. In a statement Rank said “However, the Full House Destination estate performance as a whole has been disappointing and the capital invested has not improved the public’s perception of bingo sufficiently to address the general decline in admissions. Due to the inadequate return on investment from these conversions the group will not be committing to any further at this present time. The group does though remain committed to finding new ways to develop the venues experience across the entire estate.”

Rank has opened nine full house bingo halls since the program was launched in 2009. Rank operates a total of 97 Mecca bingo halls throughout the UK. Rank also operates Grosvenor casinos and said pretax profits fell 1% to £65.1 million. The company also warned that bad weather had reduced spending. The weather can have a dire effect on bingo halls. Last year a series of severe arctic storms hit the UK and made travel almost impossible. Bingo hall traffic declined by more than a third during the storms. On the other hand internet bingo operators experienced a 60% increase in business during the storms. Recently Rank blamed the company’s less than stellar performance on the recent heat wave.

Rank said that because of the prolonged heat wave revenues have been down since June. Rank is now the UK’s largest casino operator and earlier in the year acquired 19 casino venues from Gala Coral. At the time Gala said it would focus on the company’s bingo operations. Rank’s Chief executive Ian Burke told reporters “Despite the tough economic environment and the competitive market in which we operate the group has delivered a solid set of results. The recent hot weather has adversely impacted trading in the first weeks of the new financial year. However we remain confident in the group’s long-term prospects.”