British leisure company and operator of Mecca bingo clubs and Grosvenor casinos, Rank, said full year earnings to the end of December fell by twelve per cent to £44 million.
Rank put the fall in profits down to the smoking ban that was introduced to bingo halls in Scotland last year and with that ban soon to be expanded into England and Wales on 1 July, Rank are set for a tough time.
They have already announced they will close 9 of its bingo clubs in preparation for the ban. It was thought that the smoking ban would only affect the smaller bingo clubs in Britain but these imminent closures of the clubs runs by the UK’s biggest bingo operator suggest the smoking ban is having a more wider-reaching affect that first thought.
‘Our experience in Scotland is of a fall of 15% in revenues. We expect a broadly similar effect when the smoking bans come in for England and Wales. The English and Welsh clubs make up around 80% of our 103 clubs, and the City analysts will be working out the effect in their own profit forecasts,” Ian Burke, Rank chief executive said in a statement.
However, it was better news for Rank on the casino front as they reported a rise of 13 per cent in operating profits for they year, taking in £39.5 million from its Grosvenor casinos.
Meanwhile, Rank are considering bidding for one of the new casino licences set to be awarded by the government, but declined to say which ones.
“We intend to bid for a number of these new casino licences, although we have concerns about the inequitable regulations governing existing casinos and the new casinos,” the company said in a statement.
Rank profits hit by bingo smoking ban
2 Mar 2007