British Bingo Revivial
Thanks to the internet, the game of bingo has experienced a tremendous revival. The classic stereotype of bingo includes blue-haired old ladies puffing away in smoky bingo halls, but in recent years, bingo operators have gotten creative and attracted a whole new generation of bingo players. Online bingo is partially responsible for the revival of land based bingo, especially in Great Britain. The UK has an active bingo market dating back to the postwar years, when bingo was played in the many holiday camps located throughout the country. In the mid 60's, dance halls and old cinemas were transformed into bingo palaces capable of seating hundreds of players.
The game acquired a reputation as entertainment for pensioners, but online bingo changed all that. The first bingo site appeared in 1996, and by 2006, online bingo was generating hundreds of millions of pounds annually. The smoking ban of 2007 forced many bingo halls to close. During the two years following the imposition of the national smoking ban, online bingo operators reported an 80% increase in player numbers. A survey taken at the time showed that approximately 63% of all land-based bingo players smoked, so it is easy to see why many in the industry considered the ban a disaster.
In the meantime, online bingo had gained a loyal following among players in the 10-to-35-year-old age bracket. By 2011, online bingo had become a two billion pound a year industry in the UK. Many land based bingo operators like Gala and Mecca invested heavily in making their bingo halls more attractive to young casual players. Many added live entertainment, DJ's, increased food and bar services and more electronic bingo games. In addition, many bingo halls added new online slot machines, which quickly became a sensation. Some bingo halls say that almost 70% of their income if from slot machine revenues.
Online bingo has been good for the British economy, and has created thousands of new jobs. Marketers and software developers are kept busy by the industry, creating new advertisements and games. Land based bingo halls have had to add more staff because of the increase in player numbers. The British bingo industry spends millions on advertising annually, and there is hardly a cable television show without an advertisement for a bingo operator. The days are long gone when the game was dominated by pensioners. For the British bingo industry, the future looks brighter than ever.
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