Will The Best Days of Traditional Bingo Ever Come Back?

By Chitrapa (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Everywhere you look across the UK, the Friday and Saturday night bingo tradition is slowly dying.  There is no bigger confirmation of this, than the fact that only a single bingo venue has been opened in the UK since 2010.

Presently, there are less than four hundred different bingo halls around the country and more than six thousand jobs have been lost in the industry since 2005. Recently, a bingo hall in Nottingham was celebrated for how it is helping contribute to the rejuvenation of the sector in the area but it is the exception rather than the norm.

Across the country, there are few big brand bingo halls. Even in upscale locations like South West London, you can find isolated clubs in Croydon, Tooting and Sutton. You can still find small bingo halls in some men’s clubs but the days of corporate bingo gaming across the UK look to be long gone.

By Chitrapa (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
By Chitrapa (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

What is responsible for this demise?

The rise of online bingo sites for UK players contributed to the decline in the bingo hall audience numbers across the UK but there are other causes such as prohibitive tax rates and a decline in investments. Similarly, traditional bingo paints an unwelcoming picture for the modern day audience who are more inclined to use technology. The traditional bingo industry has also shown little by way of innovation.

The 2007 Ban on Smoking

The ban on smoking in 2007 has been noted as one of the big factors in the demise of bingo gaming. The end to indoor smoking affected traditional bingo almost instantly as 50 per cent of the traditional bingo audience are smokers. Within a year of the ban, dozens of clubs closed around the UK with 10 in Scotland alone.

Better Internet

Increasing access to public internet and more affordable data plans have led to a rise in the number of people electing to enjoy bingo online. In 2016, mobile and online bingo accounted for 5% of the online gaming niche.  Some experts argue that online bingo would not be as popular if Bingo halls didn’t close down across the UK, since the audience is similar.  However, the sharp rise in uptake for online bingo highlights a shift in tastes from traditional gambling to mobile and online gambling. Apart from bingo, the gambling audience has also shown interest in games such as roulette black jack and more.

Perhaps the best explanation for the increase in uptake for online bingo  is this research, which concluded that chat rooms and forums made online bingo more popular as the social element that made bingo parlours what they were, is now available to the online bingo audience at all times. It means that the one advantage that offline bingo held over online bingo no longer exists.

There is still a possibility that we could see bingo halls return to fashion if the big names decide to innovate. The signs do not look good though.


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