Rank Group profits hurt amidst changing market

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Rank Group saw its profits rise by two percent, as the betting firm comes to grips with a changing market.

Its latest financial results, published on 17 August, showed that full year sales dropped slightly, from £708.5m to £707.2m, but pre-tax profits on an underlying basis rose by two percent to £79.3m.

Rank, which owns Grovesnor casinos and Mecca bingo halls, has put its squeezed growth down to tightened controls on money laundering and problem gambling at casinos. A continued decline at its bingo halls also took a toll on profits.

Henry Birch, chief executive, said the results were “in common with the rest of our industry.”

“There is quite rightly increased pressure on all gambling companies to know their customers and know their sources of funds.

“This has affected business because in many cases, we get to the point of asking very big spenders to show us evidence of payslips or bank statements and they choose to go elsewhere with their money.”

Like-for-like revenues rose one percent to £754m, but pre-tax profits dropped 7 percent to £80m.

Revenues at casinos dropped three percent from the year before to £397m following what the group called a “challenging year” for this part of the business.

However, Rank raised its full-year dividend and management said it was cheered by a strong performance at its online gambling business.

Sales at Mecca bingo fell to £214m from £222m a year ago. But although the number of customer visits fell by nine percent, the silver lining is that the customers who are still visiting its bingo halls are spending more.

Thanks to initiatives introduced such as enabling customers to order food and drink on their phone to be delivered to their table, as well as special events targeted at specific groups of customers like students, customers were spending six percent more per trip.

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