It’s no secret that casinos and bingo halls have suffered under lockdown. But as restrictions are now easing, venues across Britain whose doors have remained closed since March are finally reopening in accordance with local jurisdictions.
This wasn’t enough to save Buzz Bingo, which recently saw the unfortunate closure of 26 bingo halls. But, for Rank Group, the UK’s largest casino operator with big-name subsidiaries Mecca Bingo and Grosvenor Casinos, the first few weeks of trading since reopening has brought success.
During July and August, Rank reopened almost all (72 of 77) of its Mecca venues, which it says are achieving 70 percent of prior year revenue with visit numbers now at approximately 55 percent.
Additionally, Grosvenor casinos, which were only permitted to reopen throughout England on August 15, sees venues outside of London reported to be achieving 75 percent of prior year revenue levels. Weak trading in London sees revenue sit slightly less, at around 40 percent of prior year levels.
Positive momentum for the future, but a full recovery could take a while
John O’Reilly, chief executive of The Rank Group, explained: “Rank performed very strongly during the first part of the year and into the second half. Despite continued good growth in our digital brands, with our venues closed from mid-March, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the group has been significant.
“However, with the huge commitment and dedication of our colleagues, very tight cost control across the business and the support we have received from the Government, we have carefully navigated the past few months and are now beginning to successfully emerge. We know the recovery will take time, but the underlying strength of our business provides us with confidence that we are well equipped to return to full strength.
Fun and games as usual, with new extensive safety measures
He went on to explain, “We’ve been encouraged by the first few weeks of trading following reopening and whilst the supply-side constraints, including social distancing and changes to the way we operate table gaming, are going to be challenging over the coming months, the response from customers to the extensive safety measures we have in place has been very positive.
“The need to deliver on Rank’s long-standing promise to excite and to entertain our customers has never been more important. The post-lockdown expectations of customers who are looking for ways to safely enjoy their leisure time and spend will be higher than ever, and we are determined to ensure our brands are well-positioned to benefit from this shift.
“Our venues are ultra-safe and invariably benefit from being large in size. This gives us extra opportunities to offer something special to our casino and bingo customers within a COVID-19 safe environment and we are looking forward to welcoming more of our customers back.”
Rank expects to rebuild revenues through the year, with an increase in footfall expected once social distancing and other constraints reduce and customer confidence returns.