Gala Coral rues Bingo woes, eyes tote partnership

(By Pete Harrison – source:,,-6249794,00.html)

LONDON, Nov 30 (Reuters) – Scotland’s smoking ban has knocked up to 15 percent off the revenues and as much as 90 percent off the profits of some bingo clubs as smokers stay away, threatening the survival of smaller venues, Gala Coral’s chief executive said on Thursday.
Neil Goulden also said Gala Coral would consider a partnership with the horse-racing industry in the company’s bid for the Tote, Britain’s state-owned bookmaker.
And on Friday it could learn how successful it has been in bidding for betting-shop licences in Italy, as could rivals Ladbrokes and William Hill.
“There’s been quite a marked impact in Scotland where revenues are down between 5 and 15 percent,” Goulden told Reuters on the sidelines of a Business In Sport and Leisure (BISL) conference.
“Most badly impacted are the smaller venues like converted cinemas, and those are the ones that are most important to local communities,” he added.
Gala Coral is Europe’s biggest gambling firm, with an enterprise value of more than 4 billion pounds ($7.82 billion), and operates 175 bingo clubs, 31 casinos and nearly 1,500 licensed betting offices. It is jointly owned by private-equity firms Candover, Cinven and Permira.
Goulden said a 15 percent drop in revenues at smaller bingo venues could translate into a 90 percent drop in profits. At more modern, larger bingo clubs — like most of Gala’s — the profit impact could be as little as 10 percent.
Dozens of small Scottish bingo clubs are predicted to close in coming months.
Gala Coral is expanding its bookmaking empire and has bid 405 million pounds for
the Tote.
The UK government is considering its options after rejecting an offer of around 320 million pounds for the Tote in September from a consortium of UK horse-racing industry players.
The Labour government has pledged to sell the Tote to the racing industry, but an attempt last year to sell it was blocked by the European Commission, which said the price was so low it constituted state aid.
Other possible contenders include the Tote’s former chief executive, John Heaton, a management-led buyout and the horse-racing consortium with a renewed bid.
Goulden said he was hopeful the government would make an announcement before Christmas. “We would consider a partnership with racing,” he added.
Goulden said Gala Coral was not interested in bidding to run the single, Las Vegas-style supercasino that Britain is allowing under new gambling rules.
But it will bid for licences to run the eight large and eight small casinos that are to be allowed under the new round of licensing in 2007.
(From Casino-BingoTop Online bingo rooms in Britain…)

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.