Will Big Bingo Firms Move Closer?
In the UK bingo scene, the biggest names left standing have to be Gala and Mecca Bingo. There are a number of small local bingo companies fighting the good fight and ensuring that community players can have fun with their friends but looking at the UK bingo hall scene, it is these two names that rule the roost. You can imagine the uproar and controversy if one of these two big bingo names were to takeover or swallow up the other. Bingo players all over the country would potentially find their gaming options limited and could lose out on some local bingo halls.
Big news for big bingo firms
Bingo players should relax at the moment because this is not on the cards but it does seem as though the two companies that own the bingo giants are moving closer. This is due to the fact that Rank, which in addition to owning Mecca Bingo also own Grosvenor Casinos, have made a bid for the Gala Coral casinos. In total, this amounts to 26 casinos and the proposed sums of money involved with this transaction comes to £205m. This is a huge sum of money but obviously one that would see Rank become an undoubtedly major player in the casino industry in this country.
However, the move may not be finalised as quickly as Rank were hoping for. This is down to the fact that the Office of Fair Trading have referred the potential purchase to the Competition Commission.
The OFT released the following statement; “The OFT is concerned that the merger would reduce competition both at a national level and in nine local areas. A reduction in competition in the casino sector could result in a worse deal for consumers. Additionally, the OFT found that there are high barriers to entry and expansion in the casino sector due, among other things, to the licensing regime, which would severely limit the ability of third parties to enter or expand to replace the loss of competition caused by the merger.”
Given that this report is not scheduled to be finalised and released until February 2013, there is virtually no hope of the deal being completed before the New Year. Initially, Rank were hopeful that the deal could be finalised by September of this year but that won’t happen. At the moment, bingo players don’t have anything to worry about but with big moves afoot, who knows what the long-term future will be for Rank and Gala-Coral.