Following a challenging full year 2020/21, Rank CEO John O’Reilly welcomed the opportunity to update the regulations for Britain’s land-based casino sector.
The Rank Group has characterised the British government’s review of gambling regulation, as a “once in a generation opportunity”.
The gambling operator said that 51 of its 52 Grosvenor casinos were licensed under the 1968 Gambling Act and are limited to 20 gaming machines, compared with 80 for those few venues operating under the 2005 act.
Rank’s CEO John O’Reilly said that while a key focus of the review was online regulation, it was also an opportunity for modernising land-based casino legislation.
“The current review should ensure that the positive learnings from the 2005 Act regulations, and additional developments appropriate for today’s consumers, are factored into the new baseline of gambling regulation for landbased casinos,” he stated.
In its submission to the government’s Call for Evidence in March, Rank also called for “the ability to provide electronic table games based on a random number generation rather than a physical event, which would enable customers to play a broader range of lower stakes table games”.
Meanwhile, the operator said its UK casinos and bingo halls had made “encouraging progress” since reopening in mid-May, although its nine London casinos continued to be impacted by the lack of tourists visiting the capital. Rank Group reported a £92.9m operating loss for its full year 2020/21, a fall of 532 percent on the previous financial year.
“Unlike the prior year, our venues business felt the impact of COVID-19 throughout the entire financial year – H1 being subject to local lockdowns and restrictions and then closed for much of H2,” explained Rank chair Alex Thursby.
Net gaming revenue for the 12 months ended 30 June 2021 was £329.6m, a 48 percent decline year-on-year.
“Our venues businesses, Grosvenor, Mecca and Enracha, which accounted for 79 percent of group revenue in H1 2019/20, have seen combined like-for-like revenue fall by 65 percent in the year as the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the resultant restrictions heavily impacted the hospitality sector in both the UK and Spain across the whole financial year,” the company said in its full year results presentation.
Rank stated that it had sufficient liquidity to weather the difficult trading conditions after it had raised £70m of new equity and sold a Belgian casino for £25.2m. The operator received a £13.3m duty rebate from Revenue and Customs and is in line to collect £80m from a VAT claim provided HMRC does not appeal.