Casino operator Rank could be forced to sell five venues – including one in Aberdeen – and an operating licence in Edinburgh before its deal to acquire rival Gala gets the green light from competition authorities.
Casino operator Rank could be forced to sell a number of venues – including one in Aberdeen – and an operating licence in Edinburgh before its £205 million deal to acquire rival Gala gets the green light from regulators.
The Competition Commission (CC) said the acquisition of 23 Gala casinos and three “cold” licences – where a firm holds the right to set up a casino in a particular area – could lead to a “substantial lessening of competition” in Aberdeen, Bristol, Cardiff, Liverpool and Stockton-on-Tees.
In addition, the watchdog has identified that Rank holds a cold licence in Edinburgh, which would probably be developed into a competing casino if the merger did not go ahead.
The CC has set out a range of possible remedies, which could include forcing Rank to find buyers for sites in the five affected areas, plus the Edinburgh licence, before being allowed to complete the deal. Its final report is due by 20 February.
Deputy chairman Martin Cave said: “Our concern is that with two of the national players merging, this will leave a number of areas with much reduced competition where casino customers could consequently lose out.”
The planned acquisition would see Rank leapfrog Malaysian firm Genting as the UK’s biggest player, giving its Grosvenor casino division 57 sites.
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