Gaming firm Rank finds going flat

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A winning streak for casino punters and a quieter summer at Mecca bingo halls as more people gamble online knocked sales at gaming firm Rank.

Its overall revenues were flat on a year earlier in the 16 weeks to October 16, having grown 4.6 per cent in the six months to June 30, despite a surge in online gaming driven by strong demand for Meccabingo.com.

Visitor numbers at its 99 Mecca halls declined three per cent in the 16 weeks, it was revealed yesterday, although this was offset by a two per cent increase in average spending, leaving like-for-like revenues at the division flat.

And the growth in customer numbers at its 35 Grosvenor casinos slowed to seven per cent, while big winnings in London left overall revenues down one per cent.

Rank warned that consumer trends were likely to be “more challenging” in 2012.

Online revenues increased 21 per cent in the most recent 16 weeks as punters downloaded its Mecca Bingo and Blue Square sports betting apps.

Gaming through smartphones has nearly trebled compared to the same period a year ago and now accounts for six per cent of its online revenues.

Grosvenor Casinos traded well in the provinces, the group said, but revenues were hit after the group paid out more winnings in London in the period, causing its margin to fall by nearly three percentage points.