Rank mulls future of Blue Square online brand

LONDON Thu Jan 10, 2013 4:45am EST

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LONDON (Reuters) - Gambling firm Rank Group Plc (RNK.L) is reviewing its loss-making online sports betting business Blue Square as it seeks to focus on its casinos brands, the company said on Thursday.

"The (Blue Square Bet) business operates solely in the digital channel of the highly competitive sports betting market where it continues to generate an operating loss," Rank said in a statement.

Blue Square offers sports betting, casino and slots games online. It also provides sports betting for 888 (888.L) and sponsors minor league soccer.

In its latest trading statement in October, Rank said Blue Square Bet revenues had risen, but that the advertising campaign that helped drive this would impact on profitability. It had a begun a 3.5 million pounds ($5.6 million) upgrade of its sports products, it said.

Rank, majority-owned by Malaysia's Guoco Group, (0053.HK) runs casino brands Grosvenor and Mecca - which have both physical and online operations - and is in the process of buying private equity-owned Gala Coral, which would make it Britain's biggest casino operator.

($1 = 0.6247 British pounds)

(Reporting by Rosalba O'Brien; Editing by Paul Sandle)

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