altRecent reports from Mecca Bingo owners, Rank, have indicated a slump in the amount of visitors to their bingo halls in the last year. However, on the flip side, more players are enjoying their online offerings than ever, giving Rank a 9% profit rather than a loss.

Despite their 97 land-based clubs suffering a 1.7% loss, the Mecca Bingo parent company celebrated a 25% rise in its online profits, with MeccaBingo.com acting as the driving force behind the increase.

Shares in Rank have also increased by around 6% as consumer confidence continues to grow, leading to the company’s chairman, Ian Burke, stating that despite the current economic climate, they are looking “forward to the future with optimism.”

Whilst a few tumbleweed bales may be blowing through Mecca’s bricks-and-mortar establishments, Rank has seen great revenue results at their Grosvenor Casino chain of clubs. Having recently re-branded as G Casino and carried out major refurbishment in an attempt to woo a younger crowd, the Grosvenor arm has seen revenues rise by 4% and underlying profits by 11%, resulting in a success story for this division for the fourth year in a row. Grosvenor is soon set to become the largest casino operator in the UK when it completes its £205m deal to take over Gala Coral’s 23 land-based casinos by the end of September 2012. Its online casino is also performing extremely well with a rise of around 50% in revenue in the last year alone. This may well have been aided by the increased advertising of the website in their physical casino venues.

Despite Mecca Bingo making efforts to entice a younger audience with its new ‘after dark’ club sessions, which are aimed at the under-35 age group, it has failed in its mission to significantly increase player numbers. However, it has reported some increased revenues thanks to improved food and drink offers, and the roll-out of electronic handheld computers, which allow players to check their tickets for missed numbers.

What are your thoughts on land-based versus online bingo? Perhaps you’ve forgone some of your regular visits to your local club in favour of a more convenient trip to an online site? Do you think land-based operations would fare better if they took a leaf out of Grosvenor Casino’s book and do more to entice a younger and more varied audience? What would tempt you personally to visit your local club more often?

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