Rank smartens up and pulls in punters

The bingo hall and casino operator Rank is luring in new customers thanks to some spruced-up properties and an array of supporting websites and phone apps.

Its revenues rose £9m to £296m in the half year to December, while profit edged up to £32.5m.

The chief executive Ian Burke potentially risked the wrath of anti-gambling groups yesterday when he spoke of "value for money" gaming. But the numbers indicate that few customers appear to have betting addiction problems. The average spend per visit has fallen slightly to £20.78.

Rank said customer numbers at Mecca Bingo had risen by 50,000 to 770,000 during the period with Grosvenor Casinos attracting 762,000 customers, a rise of 61,000.

That helped to offset a decline in revenue and profit at Top Rank Espana in Spain, where trading has been hit by the introduction of a smoking ban.

Rank, which operates 35 casinos and 103 bingo halls in Britain, has sought to broaden the appeal of its venues with more restaurant and bar facilities. The company is majority-owned by Guoco Group following a takeover last year.