More young joining the bingo ranks

The owner of Mecca Bingo yesterday said it is attracting more and younger customers after reporting a surge in profits and sales in the final six months of last year.

Rank Group saw the number of customers at Mecca Bingo, which has 98 venues in the UK, increase by 7 per cent to 770,000 in the six months to December 31, while the number of punters at its Grosvenor Casino chain leapt 9 per cent.

Analysts said investment in activities for younger markets, such as the After Dark suite of games which are aimed at under-35s, is boosting Mecca’s performance and should lead to further growth.

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Elsewhere, Rank, which reported an 8 per cent rise in pre-tax profits to £32.4m, said it was still in talks with Gala Casinos about a takeover of the business.

Some 65 per cent of Mecca’s customers are now under 35 as the group introduced later opening hours and games aimed at younger markets, including rock and roll bingo, in which bingo numbers are replaced with song titles.

The After Dark games are marketed through social networking site Facebook as well, with Mecca’s page having more than 100,000 followers.

However, the strong results were flattered by the comparison to last year’s snow-struck winter, which saw potential customers remain indoors rather than face the harsh conditions.

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The 75-year-old company said it achieved customer and revenue growth in each of its UK brands, including online betting firm Blue Square.

The group revealed plans to improve the brand awareness of Grosvenor Casinos, which has 35 venues in the UK.