Gambling industry stalwart John O’Reilly will take over as boss of Grosvenor Casinos and Mecca Bingo owner Rank just months after incumbent Henry Birth announced his resignation.

Mr O’Reilly, who has stepped down from the board of William Hill to take the job, has been in the betting and gaming industry for 25 years including stints at Ladbrokes and Gala Coral.

Rank has been on the hunt for a new chief executive since March when Henry Birch, who joined the company in 2014, resigned to head up Shop Direct, the retailer behind Littlewoods and Very, which is owned by the proprietors of The Daily Telegraph.

The change atop Rank comes as the FTSE 250 firm said earlier this month it expected full-year operating profits of £76m to £78m, compared with previous analyst estimates of around £85m. The news sent its shares down 13pc.

Revenues from Rank’s casinos open for more than a year dropped 9pc in the 13 weeks to April 1 compared with the same period the previous year, which it said was partly down to its high-rolling players winning more regularly, while revenue at its bingo halls slumped 2pc in the same period compared with the previous year.

That was partly offset by a 17pc hike in revenues from its websites, but group like-for-like revenues were down 2pc overall.

Mr O’Reilly, who takes up his new role on May 7, previously ran Ladbrokes’ digital operations and was an executive on its board until August 2010. In 2011, he joined Gala Coral to relaunch the Coral band online and most recently joined the board of William Hill as a non-executive director in January 2017.

Rank also promoted Alan Morgan, the retail manager for the Mecca bingo estate, to the board as an executive director, with effect from May 7.

Rank shares were little changed at 174.80p.

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