UK Competition Commission Stamps Rank plc and Gala Coral Deal

The UK Competitions Commission has this week approved the Rank plc land and online gambling group acquisition of Gala Coral's land-based estate in a GBP179 million deal, therefore making Rank Britain's largest land gambling firm.

It was May last year when Rank made its bid to acquire the 23 bricks-and-mortar venues operated by Gala Casinos Limited in the UK, taking over 57 UK venues along with a 44 percent market share.

Alas, the Office of Fair Trading referred the proposal to the Competition Commission on fears that it would 'substantially reduce competition in the casino sector, and the commissioners ruled that the take-over could only proceed if the Gala operations in Aberdeen, Stockton-On-Tees, Bristol and Cardiff were excluded.

They have also ruled that Rank would have to dispose of three 'cold' licenses (those where an operator holds the right to operate a casino in a particular area even though the premises are not currently active) that Gala Coral held in Edinburgh before acquiring the venue in that location.

So Rank has off-loaded its cold license in Edinburgh to Global Gaming Ventures and will now go ahead with the purchase of 19 casinos and three cold licenses from the Gala Coral Group following the conditions outlined by the Commission.

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