We have known for many years that land based bingo halls were being threatened by the advent of bingo on dedicated bingo sites and at online casinos. Until recently, bingo was not a choice at an online casino; scratch cards and other parlor games were considered more popular. But the gaming public began asking for bingo and the casinos quickly got their game providers to develop bingo games.
It was always thought, however, that the older generation would carry on and support the land based bingo halls. Many have made many impassioned pleas for people to continue to play bingo at land based halls because many of these halls support or supported local charities.
We say that some supported charities because the number of land based bingo halls continues to dwindle and the primary reason is the broad availability of online bingo.
Sharp Drop in Players at Bingo Halls
A new report just came out that 20% of older bingo players, overwhelmingly women, now play online bingo. The number of bingo halls in Great Britain has fallen in recent years from 600 nationwide to merely 350. The number will surely fall even further as young gamblers choose other gambling avenues such as land based and online casinos and the older players find it easier to play bingo online.
The number of 20% now preferring to play bingo online doesn’t tell the whole story. The report claims that 300,000 players switched from land based bingo halls to online bingo just in the last year.
The Big Question: Why?
Observers discount the impact of no smoking rules on the apparent demise of bingo halls. Most women in their 50’s or older had either never smoked or had quit the habit years before and the number of men who might have been dissuaded from playing at a bingo hall was too small to have had much of an impact.
Online bingo is the big change and it seems to spell the end of the bingo hall in just a few years. Online bingo far outpaces in person bingo in convenience. Whatever is lost by not enjoying the atmosphere of the bingo hall is made up for in not having to travel in inclement weather, not having to drive at night, and not having to get dressed to play.
Sadly, the attraction of the bingo hall also diminishes whenever a member of one’s playing group passes away. Thus, bingo halls serve as a reminder of one’s mortality while online bingo reminds us just that we just love to play bingo.
Bingo the Big Loser To Online
The report was made by the United Kingdom Gambling Commission (UKGC) which is charged with regulating gambling in all facets in Great Britain. It reports that land based bingo has lost the most players of all gambling done outside the home.
Turning a Loss into a Gain
Not every bingo hall closing can be said to be bad news. A news report out of Grand Forks, North Dakota says that a massive 10,000 square foot (1000 square meters) bingo hall that had operated for 30 years in a major mall in town had closed in 2015. Now two entrepreneurs are planning to open a “workshop” for small business owners and other entrepreneurs.
The closed bingo hall had been losing money as revenues couldn’t keep up with the large overhead. The hall had supported organizations that helped disabled persons and persons with other health problems.
The two entrepreneurs, Katie McPhail and Aaron Mooney, are setting up what they plan to call Makerspace. It will feature tools and laboratory equipment that business owners can use to help their own businesses.
McPhail made the point that the oil and gas boom in North Dakota had changed the business landscape in the state and many permanent residents of the state are beginning to think in entrepreneurial terms.
Makerspace will have at its outset a paint area, metalwork shop, woodworking shop, and a tech lab. The two owners say that they are open to adding any other facility to the four originals space permitting and dependent on the need to do so. As far as determining need, they plan to hold town hall-type meetings to get input directly from the consuming public.
Bingo Goes Rave
The less than happy news about the demise of the traditional bingo hall has a second side to it. In 2015 two men from Liverpool, Josh Burke and Johnny Bongo, set up a bingo night for millennials. It is more millennial night out with a bingo twist rather than bingo with some minor entertainment.
Bongo’s Bingo features strobe lights and rave music to get people in the doors. Eschewing traditional advertising, the partners embarked on a social media campaign to get millennials to try out Bongo’s Bingo. It is now doing well in several other venues in Britain including its home base in Liverpool.
Modern World Meets Bingo
It would appear that when the modern world met bingo the modern world won. Bingo is usually no longer a stand-alone attraction. Many bingo halls especially in Canada have added pseudo-casino video games to attract young people. It may not be working but it has had the opposite effect of convincing the mainstream land based bingo player to stay home and play online.
The big losers are the many worthwhile charities that have depended on bingo for at least some of their community support.