Rank CEO Henry Birch talks up the prospects for UK gaming, but warns that this success is dependent on society’s favourable view of the industry.
The head of Rank Group offered staunch words to UK gaming this week, warning that if gambling addiction is not taken seriously the industry could “go the same way as tobacco.”
Speaking to the Cardiff Business Club, Rank’s chief exec, Henry Birch said that the industry has “cause for cheer” due to consumers spending more of their cash on leisure and entertainment. However, he warned that as revenues from gambling continue to expand, this success must be met with heightened measures to mitigate addictive behaviour, or the industry risks falling foul of public opinion.
“If we don’t get the industry in order we don’t deserve to flourish,” Birch said.
“We [at Rank] track customers’ patterns of pay and screen the bets they make when those exceed £1,500. We are working at this and striving to do more, otherwise gambling will go the same way as the tobacco industry.”
“This gives us cause for cheer with the experiences we provide in our casinos”
Birch explained that the five percent year-on-year drop in clothing sales in the UK is mirrored by an upward trend in spending on eating out and other leisure activities. In this context, the propensity to bet has hardly been stronger.
“This gives us cause for cheer with the experiences we provide in our casinos,” he said.
Rank Group’s tentacular subdivisions reach a staggering three million customers in 2016. Today, Mecca Bingo and Grosvenor Casinos operate 87 and 56 venues respectively across the UK, while EnRacha operates a further nine outlets across Spain. With still further scope for expansion, there is a risk of complacency.
The overall economic outlook for the short to mid term is not altogether positive, he explained. “I think we are not in batten down the hatches mode, but I can’t see that the economy is going to improve in the next 24 months and our hope is that it remains stable.” And with less money in circulation Birch warned the need for the industry to be diligent becomes heightened.
“We understand that our success as a business is dependent upon society’s view of our effectiveness in doing this and that the value that we generate from our operations is a measure of the value that we add to people’s lives,” he concluded.
“At Rank our aim is to make a positive contribution to the quality of life in the communities we serve by bringing people together, creating fun experiences and making people happy.”