Ailing casino operator the Rank Group has confirmed its plans to reopen its venues in May after reporting alarming sales figures in the first quarter of 2021.
The true cost of the enforced closures for the casino sector is revealed in Rank’s 76% plunge in net gaming revenue for the first quarter of the year when compared to that of 2020, with online gaming unable to make a serious dent in the shortfall – digital ‘sales’ had also fallen 3% for the same period.
There has been a difference noted across their verticals, however, with Mecca Bingo reporting a 4% increase in online activity with Grosvenor Casinos down by 2%.
Of course, all of Rank’s UK-based casinos and bingo halls have been closed as part of the government’s guidelines, while their nine venues in Spain only opened their doors to punters at the end of March.
The government’s road map out of the lockdown confirms that indoor hospitality venues can open again on May 17, and Rank is planning a full reopening as it seeks desperately to get money through the tills.
They warned at the turn of the year that it may take until the summer of 2022 before their business fully recovers, and that they will be seeking to overturn the derisory returns of 2020 which showed that the company lost a staggering £59.4 million pre-tax for the second half of the year.
However, it’s not all doom and gloom as Rank produced a comprehensive look at their finances, with £89 million available to the firm in cash reserves showing how strong the future appears to be for the operator.
The chief executive of Rank Group, John O’Reilly, confirmed he could not wait for casino and bingo hall doors to open once again.
“Our business has inevitably been heavily impacted by the pandemic, he said.
“But with the strong support and dedication of our colleagues, we are now very much looking forward to reopening our casino and bingo venues, welcoming back our customers and providing the great entertainment and omni-channel service in a Covid-safe environment we know they enjoy.”
Blackjack and Bhajis
One gaming establishment that won’t be reopening anytime soon is the illegal casino that was being run above an Indian restaurant in Doncaster.
Police swooped on Shabir’s Restaurant in the East Laith Gate area of the town receiving tip-offs of large groups meeting at the venue.
Officers from South Yorkshire Police took the restaurant’s owner in for questioning after reports of ’40 to 50’ people meeting in an upstairs function room, which had been given a casino-style makeover with gaming tables etc, were filed.
This is a clear breach of protocol, and Shabir’s owner will now appear before Doncaster Council’s licensing committee to explain his actions.
He had tried to claim that the function room had been ‘sub-let’ to another party, however arresting officers found menus and used plates in amongst the blackjack tables and roulette wheels.