Some would have thought that bingo on the high street was dead. Not so long ago the two biggest names; Mecca and Gala, came close to selling up and quitting altogether. People seemed to have lost interest in going to a bingo hall and spending and evening with their friends and trusty dabbers. Some blamed the recession, others the smoking ban and some who simply said bingo was no longer fashionable.
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But recently that trend has reversed. Figures out this summer show that Mecca are reporting a 40% increase in their turnover and this partly due to the resurgence of bingo being played on the high street. There are said a number of reasons for this increase.
The game is no longer considered just for the elderly. Traditionally some may have though that bingo was just for the blue rinse brigade, but this no longer the case. The high street halls realised a younger crowd wanted to go and found that playing bingo was a popular start to the evening for hen dos. This saw the emergence of ‘After Dark Bingolo’ where players dress up in Day-Glo outfits that glow in the dark. This has proven to be very popular with the younger crowd. There has even been a spin off from this event with a nightclub in London running a unique bingo night with dancers, aluminous marker pens and other antics that would raise eyebrows amongst the traditional crowd.
It is also the rise of automated marking and two rooms. Before if you so much as sneezed you’d be given a sideways glance that said ‘don’t do that again’. But now most bingo halls have two separate halls, one for the traditional players and their dabbers and another for the younger crowd. This other rooms have automatic electronic scoring which enables players to chat and drink freely while they hope to win some extra cash. Players will sit and munch on a curry and drink a beer or wine before hitting the town for a big night out.
But there has also seen a rise in this amongst widowers. A number of bingo players that were recently interviewed said they enjoyed playing bingo to get out of the house. It gave them a common ground and made it easy for them to make new friends and meet people. This social impact is the main reason these elder players go along and play bingo. They are not just there to win and take part, but also make new friends and catch up with everything that has been happening in the days they’ve been sat at home.
The bingo halls seem to have become the place where families now go. Generations of mothers, daughters and grandchildren can be found sitting side by side enjoying a night out. The old myth that bingo halls are for older people is quickly being dispelled as the big high street halls aim to attract the next generation of bingo players.