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Cold snap hits Mecca bingo owner Rank

Rank Group, the European gaming and betting business, slumped in early trading on Monday after revealing that revenues in the third quarter were affected by the disappointing weather that gripped the UK this spring.

Rank Group, the European gaming and betting business, slumped in early trading on Monday after revealing that revenues in the third quarter were affected by the disappointing weather that gripped the UK this spring.

The result means that full-year figures are likely to come in "marginally below" last year, the firm said. Shares were down 6.02% at 156p by 08:33.

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Total continuing revenue and like-for-like (LFL) revenue in the 18 weeks to May 5th were both down 2.0%.

"Unsurprisingly, our venues were affected by the persistent freezing weather conditions during the third quarter," said Chairman and Chief Executive Ian Burke.

Grosvenor Casinos, which operates 54 casinos in Britain and two in Belgium as well as an online and mobile offering, saw LFL sales decrease 5.0%, hit by a 5.0% fall in customer visits and a 1.0% decline in spend per visit, with the latter owing to a lower-than-normal win margin in London.

Rank also operates 97 Mecca bingo clubs in the UK which registered a 1.0% fall in LFL revenue during the period as a 3.0% increase in spend per visit was offset by a 7.0% fall in customer numbers.

One bright spot was Enracha, Rank's operator of 11 bingo clubs in Spain, which managed to increase LFL sales by 1.0% during the 18-week period on a sterling basis. Local currency revenues however slipped by 2.0%.

The company said: "As a result of the temporary impacts of the abnormal weather during the winter period and a weak London win margin in the last 18 weeks, the group expects its 2012/13 results from continuing businesses (including the contribution from Gala casinos) will be marginally below last year."

Rank, which recently took over the Gala Casino chain, said that continuing sales, which exclude the discontinued Blue Square Bet operations, were up 5.0% (+3.0% LFL) in the first 44 weeks of the year. The company sold its Blue Square Bet business to Betfair for £5.0m in April.

"With the successful completion of the Gala Casinos acquisition, we have made major progress in delivering the group's long-term strategy by increasing its focus on the growth areas of casino venues and digital.We remain confident in the group's long-term growth prospects."

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