The Rank Group

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The Rank Group plc
Type Public (LSERNK)
Industry Gaming
Founded 1995
Headquarters Maidenhead, Berkshire, UK
Number of locations 150 licensed outlets
Area served
Key people

Henry Birch CEO Ian Burke Chairman

revenue = £596.2 million (2013)[1]
Operating income £69.9 million (2013)[1]
Net income £27.0 million (2013)[1]
Website www.rank.com

The Rank Group plc today is a European gambling and leisure business, but is best remembered for its motion picture and cinema industry that it ran until 2006. It still retains the famous "Rank Gong Man" logo to proudly acknowledge its heritage. Rank’s principal market and headquarters are in the United Kingdom, where it operates Grosvenor Casinos (55 casinos), Mecca Bingo (98 bingo clubs) and Rank Interactive (online gaming and betting). In addition, Rank operates in Spain as Top Rank España (11 bingo clubs) and in Belgium as Grosvenor Casinos (two casinos). It is also listed on the London Stock Exchange and is a constituent of the FTSE 250 Index.

History[edit]

The company was formed to acquire the business interests of the Rank Organisation which itself was formed out of the business interests of its founder, J. Arthur Rank.[2]

Until the start of the 21st century, the group still had a tremendous amount of leisure holdings; however, as the decade progressed they sold their interests in Pinewood Studios[3] and the Odeon cinema chain.[4] It also divested itself of its engineering companies such as its share in Rank Xerox, selling Rank Leisure Machine Services to Gametec plus all its Butlins, Warner and Haven Holidays holiday and recreation facilities, which were all sold to Bourne Leisure.[5] They then sold off their nightclub division Rank Entertainment as well as their share of interest in Universal Studios Florida and disposed of their vast Rank film library to Carlton Communications with whom they had recently also sold their Rank Advertising Film Division.

In December 2005, as Rank sold Deluxe Film (formerly Rank Film Laboratories) for £400m, it effectively ended their sixty-year association with the film and cinema business.[6] This meant Rank Leisure had become focussed on their gaming operations with their remaining business interests concentrating on Grosvenor and G Casinos, Top Rank and Mecca Clubs, and online gaming through Rank Interactive after the company acquired the Blue Square gaming business in 2003.[7]

Finally leaving all non-gaming leisure behind, in December 2006, Rank sold the Hard Rock business, excluding the London casino venue which was rebranded to a G casino, to the Seminole Tribe of Florida for US$965 million.[8] In May 2012 Rank bought 23 casinos from Gala Coral, which, if approved by shareholders and the regulator will make it the biggest operator of casinos in the UK.[9]

Operations[edit]

Mecca[edit]

Mecca is a UK-based social and bingo club leisure company, with sites located across the UK in most major towns and cities.[10] The company also operates Meccabingo.com and Meccagames.com as an extension of the Mecca Bingo brand.

As of July 2014, the Rank Group, owners of Mecca Bingo, signed a deal with Evolution Gaming to provide its Live Dealer Roulette services. Evolution Gaming is a leader in providing a range of Live Dealer Casino Games. Since it is also a numbers based game, Roulette has generated a significant amount of revenue for the online bingo brand among its casino game offerings available on its website. Mecca Bingo’s success with Roulette and Evolution Gaming’s reputation in the industry made the partnership a practical one.

Mecca Bingo now provides players with a new Roulette experience. Rather than the reliance on the Random Number Generator (RNG) with online and mobile app versions, players now interact with a Live Dealer. Live Dealer Roulette is available on both desktop and mobile iOS and Android platforms.[11]

Controversy[edit]

On December 25, 1997, many Muslims were angered at the name of the company due to it also being the name for their holiest city and that it was the name for a gambling company as gambling is strictly forbidden in Islam. Bricks were thrown through windows at the hall, causing £3,000 of damage. On January 6, 1998, a meeting was held. Hazel Simmons, chairwoman of equal opportunities at Luton Borough Council, said; "We are aware of a groundswell of public opinion and I personally believe this to be insensitive in what is now a truly multicultural society." However, Mecca Bingo said that the name change was not insensitive and was part of a policy of bringing their nationwide chain of bingo halls under one name. Sergeant Peter Shepherd said; "It was unrealistic to expect that anything definite could be resolved at the meeting, but at least it was constructive to have the dialogue."[12]

Blue Square[edit]

Blue Square logo

Blue Square is Rank's interactive gaming business launched on 5 May 1999. Originally a traditional bookmaking business, Blue Square's services now include an online casino, slots and online poker.

In 2001 and 2002 Blue Square opened a betting market on races involving snails, hamsters and alligators.[13]

Since the start of the 2007–08 football season, Blue Square has sponsored the Football Conference, the highest level of non-league football in England.[14]

From 2010 to 2013 the league was called Blue Square Bet (Blue Square Bet Premier / Blue Square Bet North / Blue Square Bet South) and known by fans as the Blue Square Group.

In April 2013 Blue Square was sold to the[15]Betfair group for £5 Million. Betfair closed the Blue Square business the following day and the brand no longer exists.

Grosvenor Casinos[edit]

Established in 2007, Grosvenor Casinos (formerly County Clubs) is a UK-based chain of over thirty casinos located in major towns and cities across the UK with two sister casinos located in Belgium.[16] In 2010 the group had an active membership of 1 million customers across their 35 UK clubs under the Grosvenor brand.[17]

In March 2013 the Rank Group announced that it had conditionally agreed to purchase 19 Gala Casinos from the Gala Coral Group[18] in a £179 million deal. With the addition of the 19 casinos and a further three non-operating licenses The Rank Group will become the largest casino operator in Great Britain with 57 casinos.

enRacha[edit]

enRacha is Rank’s Interactive Spanish gaming site launched on 2011. enRacha offers a wide range of Spanish card games, online slots, skill games and casino and poker games.[19]

References[edit]

External links[edit]