Whilst you might not have known it, the competition that has been going on for domination of the bingo industry has been running parallel in the casino industry. The Rank Group, owners of Mecca Bingo clubs across the UK, have bought out nearly all of the Coral owned Gala Casinos across the country. Grosvenor casinos are owned by the Rank Group who also own Mecca bingo. Grosvenor’s main competitor is the Malaysian owned Genting chain, and although Grosvenor have swallowed up the Gala casinos, they still have their work cut out for them.
Currently Gala have four casinos left in; Aberdeen, Bristol, Cardiff and Stockton On Tees. It would seem that as far as land based casinos go in the UK, Rank has the upper-hand. This is the opposite of the retail bingo space where Gala Bingo still dominates in terms of the number of clubs.
Currently Gala owners Coral have a larger share of the bingo market than Mecca owners Rank, although the recent acquisition of the Gala Bingo clubs may be indicative of Rank’s feelings about the heading of land based gaming in the UK. There are not as many casinos as bingo halls in the UK, but even so, bingo closures are disproportionately more frequent than casino closures, whereas comparable openings are on an equal par, although the recent opening of a ‘Super Casino’ in Milton Keynes by the smaller Aspers Chain may be a sign of things to come.
So is it likely that Mecca owners Rank will attempt to buy out Gala Bingo clubs? If you look at the group’s profits split across bingo and casino over the last few years this would appear unlikely. They have given up on the idea of putting hard cash into their attempt to attract a younger audience as the figures don’t back up any investments. The bingo figures are behind the casino figures, so perhaps Rank are intending to hold onto their more profitable bingo clubs, whilst growing their Grosvenor Casino arm of the business. This may not necessarily be bad news for land bingo, perhaps it has reached a static phase where further growth is unlikely, and the negative effect of online bingo may also have peeked, and is now in a plateau phase. We hope so!
By: Gareth Whieldon