Gala Coral, the bookmaker and bingo and casino operator, is to delay its long-expected public listing until the effects of the smoking ban in its 174 Gala Bingo clubs becomes clear. Financial Times
The ban comes into effect in England on 1 July, but the real damage to bingo operators is likely to be felt in the winter months. Bingo operators derive around 70% of their income from bingo players playing slot machines during breaks in play. The smoking ban will drive smokers outside during breaks.
'Bingo faces a crucial six months,' admits Neil Goulden, chief executive of the group, which has 11.5% of the UK gaming market, excluding the National Lottery, and is owned by three private equity groups, Candover, Cinven and Permira. Gala Coral has an enterprise value of more than £4bn.
There are 650 bingo clubs in the UK and the industry is worth £2bn.
Gala Leisure is the biggest operator, with 174 clubs, followed by Rank’s Mecca bingos with 118. Together they account for 45% of the market.