Bingo Gains Popularity With Young Players in the US

Most people believe that bingo players are older ladies sitting in smoky bingo halls when in reality nothing could be further from the truth. In the UK live bingo is enjoying increased popularity among young people. Many young ladies are forgoing visits to local pubs and clubs in favor of evenings at live bingo halls. In 2007 a national smoking ban was imposed and almost destroyed the bingo business in Britain. Surveys taken at the time showed that a majority of bingo players (63%) smoked and attendance at games dropped dramatically. Some bingo operators tried new tactics and invested heavily in making their halls attractive to young nonsmoking players.

Rank Group spent millions remodeling their Mecca bingo halls and the move has been highly successful. On any given evening there are hundreds of twenty something’s out for a night of bingo fun. Food and beverage services have been improved and the response from players has been positive. Bingo has been a part of British culture for decades. In the United States some young players have discovered the joys of live bingo. In Houston Texas players line up during the week to play bingo. Player Brooke Dedmon told reporters “I’m pretty impressed with so many young people in the middle of the week playing bingo.”

Bingo players line up early at the SPJST Lodge #88 on Beall Street. They pay $5 for 10 bingo games. George Batrez had a unique observation and told reporters “When I try to invite some of my co-workers, they’re like, ‘Dude you’re 25. Why are you going to bingo. I’m like, ‘Cuz it’s freaking awesome.” The games started with a small sign in front of the hall and the word spread among young people via Facebook, Twitter and word of mouth. Players can bring their own wine and liquor and beer and nonalcoholic mixers are sold at the bar.

Megan Silva who was celebrating her 25th birthday playing bingo at the lodge said “So what group of young people doesn’t want to get together and bring your own wine and liquor. This is the bingo birthday bonanza.” Things are quiet during games but usually there is a resounding ‘boo’ when someone calls ‘bingo.’ Jackpots at the games range from $100 to $600 minus 5% for taxes. While most of the players are young there are still a few older players. Helen Hegwood, who has played for almost 50 years, said “We don’t mind the young people coming. We enjoy the camaraderie that goes on here.”

The night reporters were at the hall Barbara Liendo, a 58 year old Grandmother playing for the first time took home the $600 jackpot. Reporter Tiffany Craig asked “Are you coming back to bingo?” Liendo answered “Yes, next week. I’ll be here.” The lodge holds 756 players and has to turn players away every Thursday.