British Bingo Boom Continues

Bingo has been a part of British culture for decades. In the 60’s massive bingo halls appeared in cities throughout the UK. The two major operators at the time, Mecca and Gala, are still in business and both have large internet bingo operations in addition to their bingo halls. Recently Rank Group, which operates Mecca bingo halls, invested millions in refurbishing several bingo halls and casinos to appeal to a new generations of players who are seeking a ‘Night out’ experience in addition to bingo games. British tabloids have featured bingo games for decades. The relaxation of advertising standards for bingo and the smoking ban have led to a boom in the internet bingo sector.

During the past four years internet bingo has experienced astounding growth. According to recent data from BingoPort bingo generates £300 million annually from 400,000 regular players. Most people look at bingo as more of a social activity than a gambling activity. Because of the game’s long association with churches and charities bingo is a considered a ‘soft’ form of gambling by most people. Figures also show that the stigma associated with gambling is decreasing partially because of the National Lottery which was launched in 1994.

The most recent British Gambling Prevalence Survey (BGPS) said that a majority of those surveyed did not classify bingo or the national lottery as gambling. Survey participants did not like to answer questions about bingo and the lottery when they were classified as gambling. Research showed that before 2000 bingo was largely the domain of working class women who considered bingo as an opportunity to socialize at a low cost. In 2000 Britain had a massive bingo revival. Industry observers say this was because of the relaxation of advertising standards and because new bingo halls were built with computerized screen and other amenities like free parking, air conditioning, comfortable seats, bars and good food at reasonable prices. In 2007 bingo halls were hit by the national smoking ban and players numbers dropped dramatically.

This year’s British Gambling Prevalence Survey showed that 9% of the UK population had played bingo on the internet or offline during the past year. The survey showed that a new type of bingo player has emerged; those that play exclusively online. Younger people are joining in the fun and 10% of those in the 16 to 24 age bracket said they had played bingo during the past year. Out of this group more played bingo online than at live bingo halls. The British bingo market continues to grow but experts are predicting a slowdown this year. So far there is no indication of this and the market is thriving.