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Oct
17th

More Bad News for Bingo Halls

The land based Bingo industry has been relatively stable for decades but one major factor is contributing to the demise of brick and mortar bingo halls in the UK and the United States. In the UK the recently passed draconian smoking ban has caused many bingo halls to close and remaining bingo operators are reporting as much as a 25% decrease in business. In the United States smoking bans are passed on a state by state basis and in each state that has passed smoking bans bingo halls are reporting a significant decrease in business.

While the smoking ban in the UK is national and affects all parts of the country equally, the US smoking bans are passed by each individual state with differing laws in each state. This makes it difficult for industry experts in the United States to gauge the effects of smoking bans on a nationwide basis. Some states will exempt private organizations and certain businesses while other states will pass total smoking bans.

In the UK the Rank Group, one of the largest operators of bingo halls, reported a 19% drop in revenue in the UK and a 22% drop in Wales and England. To quote a statement issued by Rank, “While the recent trading difficulties affecting our UK retail businesses are worse than we had anticipated, we understand that they are shared by the broader UK bingo club and casino markets and are not unique to Rank.”

In the United States smoking bans have been taking a toll on traditional bingo halls. In Ohio, which recently passed a smoking ban without any exemptions, a significant decline in revenue has been reported and many charitable organizations are eliminating their once popular games. In Ohio even churches are feeling the pinch. In the Youngstown suburb of Campbell St Joseph the Provider has canceled their decades old game which used to draw 200 players. The revenue from these games kept tuition at the local parish school down. Pennsylvania, where smoking is still legal in bingo halls, has seen an increase in players who are traveling from Ohio to play due to the smoking ban.

The law of unintended consequences has affected charitable organizations across the United States. In the US bingo games have been used for decades as a fund raising tool for both churches and organizations ranging from veterans groups to schools. These organizations must now find new ways to generate revenue. While the rationale behind the various smoking bans was well intentioned the effects of these limitations have had negative results for some businesses and private organizations.

Online Bingo is becoming more attractive to players in the UK and the United States for a variety of reasons. Besides the obvious effects of smoking bans the larger jackpots offered by online bingo websites are attracting players in droves. Most online bingo sites are designed in a user friendly manner and those new to computers find them easy to use. Most sites are either owned or operated by publicly traded companies and have a reputation for honestly unequaled in the online gaming industry.

While the internet has certainly affected land based bingo halls to a limited extent, smoking bans have been cited by industry experts as the major factor contributing to the decline of the land based bingo industry. In places like Atlantic City municipal smoking bans have had an adverse effect on revenue and a compromise has been worked out by the city council. All this is good news for the online bingo industry which is expected to see significant growth despite the US gambling ban. Internet bingo has proved to be a satisfactory solution for those who used to play at land based bingo halls. Gaming industry experts predict that internet bingo games will surpass traditional bingo in the very near future.