Rank’s shares lose their bingo wings as Mecca visits tumble

A FALL in visits to bingo halls has prompted gambling group Rank to warn its profits will not meet forecasts.

The firm said yesterday that even with a stronger second half, the year’s operating profit will be marginally below expectations.

Like-for-like revenue dropped seven per cent in the 15 weeks to 13 October, due in large part to its bingo subsidiary Mecca.

Mecca’s total revenue fell by two per cent, with a steep 11 per cent decrease in attendance. Rank blames an unusually sweltering July for decreased gambling through Mecca as well as Rank’s casino sector, Grosvenor Gambling.

Grosvenor saw a six per cent fall in attendance and an eight per cent drop in revenue since last year.

However, the acquisition of 19 new casinos from Gala bolstered total revenue for Grosvenor and Rank, which increased by 35 per cent and 15 per cent, respectively.

Stockbroker and investment bank Panmure Gordon called the update report “woeful”.

“While part of the shortfall can be explained by a lower than usual win margin in London casinos, the declines in bingo appear structural,” Panmure said in a note to investors.

Shares in FTSE 250-listed Rank fell over two per cent yesterday.