Rank eyes land-based & online convergence to drive digital growth

15th August 2013 12:21 pm GMT

Rank Group will look to leverage its land-based presence in order to grow its digital revenues by establishing programmes that allow visiting players to accumulate loyalty points that can be used online.

Speaking following the publication of the company’s full year financial results this morning, Rank’s chief executive Ian Burke explained that the “crossover between online and clubs” represented “a huge opportunity” for the business.

Rank currently operates 55 casino venues, as well as 97 branded Mecca venues across the UK.

Burke said that the brand recognition and loyalty garnered by operators with a successful retail and land-based presence made such companies “natural winners in the online market.”

Rank’s financial results this morning revealed that just 4.6 per cent of its customers engaged with its brands across all channels, driven predominantly by its Mecca bingo halls, where 66 per cent visitors also play online (anywhere). However, just 5.8 per cent of those who visit the venue play on the MeccaBingo.com site.

The convergence of Grosvenor Casinos online and on mobile is even weaker. While 17 per cent of visitors to the venues gamble online, just 1.8 per cent do so on the Grosvenor-branded site.

Burke said the company would address this with the roll-out of the Play Points scheme, which allows players to accumulate points by visiting, gambling and dining in Rank venues, then redeem the points in exchange for gifts, discounts on meals, or for vouchers to gamble online.

The programme would be rolled out across digital channels for Grosvenorcasinos.com later this year in order to boost crossover, he revealed.

He also hinted at re-introducing a sports betting offering following the sale of the loss-making Blue Square Bet customer database to Betfair in April this year, noting that many of Rank’s customers were regular bettors.

However, Burke maintained selling Blue Square “was the right thing to do.”

“We had tried to make it work and it just didn’t,” he said. “We know sports betting is a product consumed by many of our customers so we haven’t given up thinking about how we can offer this, but as yet there are no specific plans.”

Despite the company investing £0.4m into what finance director Clive Jennings called “investigating social gaming” Burke denied Rank had designs to enter the sector in a meaningful way.

“We see this as investment in research and development,” he explained. “We are spending some money to develop games with Enteraction and leverage the brand partnerships we already have in place to learn about how customers react to social gaming, but we don’t have any dramatic plans for social.”

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