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Apr
10th

Live Bingo Halls Bouncing Back in the UK

Lately there have been conflicting reports and figures about the fate of the land based bingo industry in the UK. One study showed that about two bingo clubs are closing every month in the UK. The report also stated that during the last five years about 152 bingo clubs have closed in the UK. The report also said that profits at bingo halls have declined since the imposition of a draconian national smoking ban. The live bingo industry experienced further losses as smokers forbidden from smoking inside spent breaks outside smoking instead of purchasing drinks and snacks. For many bingo clubs losing the revenue from drinks and snacks was the straw that broke the camel’s back forcing them to close.

A recent news report suggests that live bingo is making somewhat of a comeback in certain regions in the UK.  The report said that Mecca bingo is planning to invest millions in their Midlands bingo operations. Other news reports say that many bingo halls are investing substantial sums of money to modernize their live bingo operations. Some bingo halls are adding features designed to lure younger players such as table service, DJ’s on certain nights and new electronic technologies.

When the government set a limit on fruit and slot machine jackpots many bingo clubs saw a serious decline in profits. At some clubs slot machines accounted for 40% of all gross revenues. According to one report revenues from fruit machines declined by about 33% to £575 million pounds putting even more pressure on marginal bingo operations. One report said that five years ago there were 678 bingo clubs in the UK and now there are 526.

Many industry observers say that things are not really as bad as has been reported. They say that marginal operations would have closed despite the effects of the smoking ban. The real problem they say has been excessive taxation and the industry has been lobbying Parliament for reduced tax rates. Paul Talboys of the Bingo Association said that tax cuts would save thousands of jobs in the bingo industry and would allow land based bingo halls to compete with online bingo sites.

Internet bingo has been partially credited with the recent resurgence of live bingo. Many younger players that learned the game online are going to live bingo halls to attend games. As has been mentioned many bingo halls have updated their operations to attract the new generation of bingo players. Many bingo halls have reported a positive start in 2011 and there are still plenty of investors interested in the live bingo industry.