Rank Group says it is “encouraged” by its performance over the first four months of the year despite seeing an 8% dip in revenue. The drop has been attributed to the smoking ban and tax changes.
The leisure operator, which owned Mecca bingo halls and Grosvenor casinos, says the decline in sales eased after it introduced sheltered outdoor gaming for smokers and the removal of high-jackpot gaming machines.
The company says that it expects 2008 to be a “challenging” year and industry experts predict there will be further closures of bingo halls and casinos throughout the sector.
Rank also expressed disappointment that the Government had rejected industry lobbying for tax reforms for bingo halls in the Budget.
Minister for Sport Gerry Sutcliffe hinted that the Government is set to announce some “good news” for the gaming industry in a speech at the Bingo Association last week. It is thought any changes will include the relaxation in the limits of payouts from electronic gaming machines.