UK Program May Create a New Generation of Internet Bingo Players

A new initiative in the UK titled ‘Race Online 2012’ may create thousands of new internet bingo players. The initiative is the brainchild of internet expert and advocate Martha Lane Fox and has received the approval and support of Prime Minister David Cameron. The initiative will put together a network of over 100,000 ‘digital champions’ who will help people not familiar with computers and the internet to learn computer basics. The initiative has clear social benefits for all UK citizens as Prime Minister Cameron pointed out when he stated “In the internet age, we need to ensure that people aren’t being left behind as more and more services and business move online. But this issue isn’t just about fairness as Martha’s work shows, promoting digital inclusion is essential for a dynamic modern economy and can help to make government more efficient and effective.”

At least one bingo operator has seen the potential for the initiative and will host training sessions at its land based bingo halls. Mecca bingo, which operates an internet bingo site in addition to its land based operations, will make the training available at all 103 Mecca bingo halls. The digital champions will help staff and customers to try the internet and will inform participants about low cost internet training opportunities. Computers will be made available at a very low cost and free broadband will be provided. Thanks to industry competition UK citizens are able to access the internet for a very low cost. Mecca said they will be working with hardware and connectivity partners to provide those that want further training with low-cost recycled or new computers designed for first time users.

Surveys have shown that most older bingo players prefer live bingo games but the new initiative may change all that. Some seniors have a fear of computers and the initiative is designed to overcome computer phobia and make new users comfortable with the technology. Mark Jones, Managing Director of Mecca Bingo addressed computer phobia and stated “Our bingo clubs really are at the centre of local communities so they offer a perfect environment for these types of sessions. People can be daunted by the prospect of using computers or even accessing the internet but learning how to do this in a fun and informal setting while among friends, we think, will really strike a chord and take away that element of trepidation.” Who knows, maybe the initiative will create a whole new generation of senior online bingo players?