MECCA Bingo owner Rank said its proposed acquisition of Gala Casinos was still on the cards despite the £205m deal being referred to competition authorities.
The planned merger would see Rank leapfrog Malaysian firm Genting as the UK’s biggest casino chain, giving Rank’s Grosvenor division 57 sites.
The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) handed the plans to the Competition Commission in August, but Rank said discussions were ongoing over changes to the previously agreed terms following the referral.
Maidenhead-based Rank also unveiled first quarter figures showing a 5% like-for-like rise in sales, driven by 8% growth at Grosvenor Casinos and a 2% rise at Mecca.
Rank said its Grosvenor Casinos benefited from 13% growth in customer spend, which offset a 5% drop in customer visits in the 15 weeks to October 14.
Revenue growth at Grosvenor came mainly from a higher than usual win margin in London driven by major player activity, Rank added.
During the second quarter, Rank will complete the refurbishment of its Grosvenor casino in Portsmouth to the new G casino format, while in the third quarter it plans to open a new G casino format venue in Reading.
Meccabingo.com continues to show strong revenues growth at 11%, which has been supported by the recent £10.4m television campaign.
Rank had agreed to pay an initial £182.5m for Gala casinos, with the rest paid in stages until 2015 when certain conditions are met.
The Competition Commission is expected to report on the Rank-Gala deal by February 3.