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Casinos from Gala Coral acquired by Rank

In the UK, the Competition Commission business regulator has given its consent for gambling giant Rank Group to purchase the land-based casino estate of rival Gala Coral Group Limited for a total cash consideration of £179 million.

Maidenhead-based Rank announced in May of 2012 that it was ready to spend upwards of £205 million in order to take control of the 23 bricks-and-mortar venues operated by Gala Casinos Limited in the UK along with the Gala Coral subsidiary’s three cold licenses.

The proposed deal would have seen Rank own 57 UK venues along with a 44 percent market share but soon ran into trouble after the Office of Fair Trading sent the proposition to the Competition Commission in August over concerns that it may ‘substantially reduce competition in the casino sector’.

The Competition Commission subsequently ruled that the deal may go ahead so long as the casinos owned by Gala Casinos in Aberdeen, Stockton-On-Tees, Bristol and Cardiff are not included while Rank was required to offload the cold licence it holds in Edinburgh to an upfront regulator-approved buyer in order to acquire the Gala site in the Scottish capital.

“The cold licence, where the operator holds the right to operate a casino in a particular area even though not currently active, has been sold to Global Gaming Ventures Limited,” read a statement from the Competition Commission.

“The Competition Commission approved Global Gaming Ventures as the purchaser of Rank’s cold licence in Edinburgh after Global Gaming Ventures satisfied criteria to ensure Global Gaming Ventures could act as a viable competitor to Gala’s existing casino in Edinburgh. The approval criteria required the purchaser to demonstrate it had appropriate expertise including a detailed business plan for developing the licence into a casino and financial resources.

“The Competition Commission’s swift approval means that Rank is permitted to proceed with the acquisition of 19 casinos and three cold licences from the Gala Coral Group following the conditions outlined by the Competition Commission when it published its final report on the merger in February.”

The approval means that Rank is to become the UK’s largest land-based casino operator with 54 operating venues and twelve non-operating licences although Gala Coral’s venues in Aberdeen, Bristol, Cardiff, Stockton-On-Tees and Gibraltar along with its non-operating licences for Westminster and Dundee have not been included in the agreement nor have its branded online activities or ‘central management functions’.

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