Smoking bans and new gambling laws blamed for fall in sales

The UK publicly listed gambling group Rank plc reported a quiet 15 weeks leading up to December 12 2008, and blamed a 7 percent decline in sales on public smoking bans and new gambling laws in Britain.

Sales at the Mecca bingo halls subsidiary dropped after admissions fell by 11 percent. Bingo revenues were roughly comparable to the same period last year, with a 5 percent increase in spend per head offsetting the fall in admissions. The Spanish bingo clubs continued to experience a difficult trading environment, with a 9 percent year-on-year decline in local currency. The company reported that overall Spanish admissions were down by 3 percent and spend per head declined by 6 percent.

Grosvenor casinos subsidiary saw like-for-like revenue growth of 4 percent, with spend per head up 16 percent while admissions were down 12 percent.

The online betting division, Blue Square, increased revenue by 1 percent, with income from the online bingo offering offsetting a decline in revenue from sports betting.

"Trading for the current financial year remains in line with market expectations," the board said. "While the outlook for the UK economy in 2009 is uncertain, Rank has taken a number of key actions to strengthen the Group's position and the board is confident in the Group's longer-term strategy."

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