Competition authorities have told casino operator Rank that it can press ahead with its acquisition of 19 sites from rival Gala, but it will not be allowed to buy four venues, including one in Aberdeen.
Today’s final report from the Competition Commission follows a provisional ruling in December, which had said Rank must sell a casino in Liverpool to get the green light, but the watchdog said it would now be allowed to keep that venue.
Rank’s initial £205 million deal to buy 23 casinos from Gala, along with three “cold” licences – where a firm holds the right to set up a casino in a particular area – was announced in May.
The Competition Commission said it would have to approve the buyer of a cold licence in Edinburgh, otherwise it would block Rank’s purchase of Gala’s Maybury casino in the city.
Rank, which also owns the Mecca Bingo chain, said it was “pleased that it will be able to proceed with the purchase of 19 of the 23 casinos originally comprised within the proposed acquisition” and it was in talks with Gala about the revised deal, which would see it leapfrog Malaysian firm Genting to become the UK’s biggest player.
Competition Commission deputy chairman Martin Cave said: “We think that removing the casinos in problem areas from the deal and requiring Rank to sell the Edinburgh cold licence to an upfront buyer will protect the interests of customers.
“The excluded casinos are all profitable and so we believe that they will continue to act as viable competitors to Rank in these areas.”