Thursday, May 10,2012 : INTERACTIVE OPERATIONS BOOST RANK RESULTS
Online casino gaming and bingo produce especially good revenues, and mobile is developing apace.
The UK-based land and online gambling Rank Group plc issued its interim management statement covering the 18 and 45 weeks period to 6 May 2012 on Thursday, noting that across the group there was 5 percent like-for-like revenue growth for the 18 weeks to 6 May 2012, with total revenue up 4 percent.
For the 45 week period like-for-like revenue was up by 3 percent and total revenue was up 4 percent.
Management commented that Grosvenor [land] Casinos and Rank Interactive achieved the Group's best results in the period.
Rank chairman Ian Burke said: "I am pleased that the Group continues to achieve solid revenue growth despite a challenging trading environment. In the period, the Group's UK businesses have continued to invest in programmes that will broaden the appeal of our brands.
"The government has recently announced its intention to introduce a number of reforms in gaming taxation. We remain convinced that a fair tax regime which supports UK jobs and stimulates local economies can only be achieved by introducing a single rate of tax for all products governed by the Gambling Act."
He was referring to government proposals to introduce secondary licensing and taxation based on point of consumption on offshore internet gambling companies, which would diminish the competitive advantage held by companies licensed in jurisdictions like Malta, Alderney, Gibraltar and the Isle of Man that still access the UK market.
The UK government currently expects that the changes will take effect from 1 December 2014 with a proposed tax rate of 15 percent. However, both the date and rate of the duty are subject to review. Rank's Interactive division, which operates from Alderney, will be brought into the UK tax regime should these changes be implemented.
Breaking out the positive Interactive Division numbers from the Rank report, the online business unit achieved a 17 percent increase in revenue during the 18 week period with another good performance from Meccabingo.com, up 19 percent. Grosvenorcasinos.com also enjoyed strong growth, up 48 percent, albeit from a low base.
The Blue Square branded sportsbook attracted more customers than last year, but these customers have staked less with the result that revenue is down 7 percent on the same 18 week period last year.
For the 45 weeks, like-for-like and total revenue grew 20 percent.
"A large part of Rank Interactive's success over the last 18 weeks is attributable to the progress we have made in improving our brands' mobile channel.," Management reports.
"In response to the increasing importance of this channel, Rank Interactive continues to develop its mobile gaming products. During the period the Group has released an upgraded bingo application under the Mecca brand which is optimised for the iPad. In addition, we have released 15 new online games across our brand portfolio.
Rank's confrontation with the UK Customs and Excise authorities continues, with an appeal relating to overpaid VAT on amusement machines referred back to the Upper Tribunal on 14 March 2012.
The court asked for further evidence on the points of dispute and a further hearing has been arranged to take place on 14 June 2012.
Rank expects a decision on the case later this year, hopefully claiming further tax refunds.