Is bingo still an option for Londoners?

The tradition of heading to the local bingo hall on a Friday or Saturday night has been dying out for a long time, as evidenced by the fact that only a single bingo venue has opened in the UK in the past seven years.

There are now fewer than 400 individual bingo halls in the country according to The Independent, with 6,500 jobs lost in the industry since 2005.

So, while the BBC recently celebrated the renaissance of the offline game in an upmarket bingo hall in Nottingham, the figures coming out of the industry tell a much more complete story of bingo’s fading glory.

The picture in south west London is the same as the rest of the country – there are only a handful of ‘big brand’ bingo halls in the SW postcode, with a lone club in Sutton, Croydon and Tooting.

Of course, there are plenty of small-time endeavours in London in working men’s clubs and converted dance halls, but corporate bingo no longer has much of a presence in the capital.

So, what happened?

Smoking Ban

While it’s true that the rise of online bingo has eaten up some of the halls’ regular audience, the decline of the offline game has a number of causes, including punitive tax rates and a lack of interest from investors.

The traditional game also has an image incompatible with the modern, technologically adept youth of today and there’s very little innovation in the industry.

The smoking ban of 2007 didn’t help. With a demographic that includes 50% smokers, the end of indoor smoking put bingo on the defensive almost overnight.

To put that statement into perspective, ten clubs in Scotland disappeared in the year between the dates the ban was enforced in the country, April 2006, and the same period the following year.

bingo-card-with-olive-oyl-bingo-dauber-cc-by-sa-2-0-by-sarahboston           © Sarah & Boston

Public Wi-Fi

Driven by increasing access to things like public Wi-Fi and affordable data plans, mobile and online bingo now makes up 5% of the online gaming niche in 2016.

Online bingo is more of a response to the closure of the UK’s favourite halls rather than a true cause, given that they share much the same audience.

However, its rapid growth owes a lot to changing tastes in gambling and a general shift towards mobile platforms for poker, blackjack, roulette and similar games.

Brands like William Hill have found ways to attract players to online bingo with regular promotions, including a Bingo Club with monthly and weekly offerings, as well as a welcome bonus for new players.

You can click here to play bingo online at William Hill and take part in 90-, 80-, and 75-ball games either online or on your mobile phone.

One of the more interesting insights into the rise of online bingo comes from scientific journal Plos One, which concluded that the addition of chat rooms and forums to the internet-based game created the same sense of community and belonging as its offline counterpart.

Consequently, one of the perceived downsides of online play over the bingo hall –  a lack of social opportunities –  no longer exists.

Featured image courtesy if crockeronline, with thanks

Related Articles