More go for Rank’s online bingo

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The owner of Mecca Bingo yesterday said a new iPad app drove a rise in people playing the game online, offsetting falling visitor numbers at its halls.

Rank Group said footfall at its 97 bingo clubs declined 2 per cent in the 17 weeks to May 6, although people spent more money on food and drink when they were there, leaving underlying revenues flat.

The fall in customer numbers, which was blamed on the economic gloom, was despite recent successes in attracting a younger crowd, including After Dark sessions aimed at under-35s.

However, meccabingo.com saw a 19 per cent rise in revenues, helped by the launch of a new app under the Mecca brand optimised for the iPad.

The group’s online division, which also includes online sports and gaming site Blue Square and grosvenorcasinos.com, saw 17 per cent growth overall, helped by the launch of 15 new online games designed for mobiles.

Rank’s like-for-like sales grew 5 per cent in the period, boosted by the success of its online and casino divisions.

The group’s 35 UK casinos attracted more people, boosted by the roll-out of its G casino format, which is designed to attract those who want a night out as well as a bet. Casino revenues rose 6 per cent.

Chairman Ian Burke said: “I am pleased that the group continues to achieve solid revenue growth.”

The improving performance at the group came amid reports that Rank is close to agreeing a £200m swoop for Gala Casinos, which operates 24 sites, in a move that would create the UK’s biggest casino operator.