UK Bingo History
In the beginning
Bingo in the UK has always been extremely popular and is a major part of the UK gaming industry.
Although the game has been around since the 1500’s, you have to look back to the late 1950’s to trace the roots of bingo in the UK.
The country’s cinema industry had been in decline for a number of years due to the growth of television. As the number of cinema goers fell, more and more cinemas began to close leaving a large number of spacious public venues available for a different use.
With the introduction of new gaming laws in 1960, bingo halls quickly moved into these new venues and brought with them scores of bingo players eager to enjoy a fun night out with friends and also with the chance to win some money.
The new bingo halls were often run by the same companies that operated the cinemas they replaced. Companies such as the Rank Organisation and ABC became successful bingo hall operators.
In addition to the established bingo brands, the success of bingo also allowed independent operators to flourish in many towns and cities.
Brand new gaming laws
In 1968 the UK gaming industry got another boost in the form of an update to the gaming act. This update allowed bingo clubs to install slot machines in their already successful venues.
All through the 60’s and 70’s the bingo clubs enjoyed huge popularity and were often the social centre of the community for many people.
To further increase the thrill factor for players, link games where brought in which linked bingo clubs in a certain area together.
The jackpots were combined so that players were playing for much larger amounts of money and this also introduced an element of inter-club competition.
This idea was also extended by the big club chains so that clubs games all over the country were linked together for huge jackpot mega-games where prize money could reach six figures.
In the 90’s some of the large chains re-branded themselves and some merged together in a bid to increase market dominance. Clubs such as Gala and Mecca emerged and became established bingo brands.
The 90’s also saw the closure of some of the older venues that had began to look dilapidated and tired.
In their place came new, modern, out of town bingo halls with large car parks to accommodate a new wave of players.
Like many other public entertainment businesses, bingo was severely affected by the smoking ban which was brought into effect in mid 2007.
Large numbers of bingo players stopped attending the clubs and this in turn caused a drop in attendance at the once thriving bingo halls.
Public bingo venues in the UK are far less popular now than for example 10 years ago. The main reason however is not the smoking ban but the advent of online bingo.
The online revolution
Online bingo in the UK has surged forward in recent years and now has established itself firmly as the online entertainment choice for many people.
Today there is a huge variety of online bingo sites to choose from to suit any pocket and any ability level.
The sites offer all of thrills and excitement of playing bingo for real money all from the comfort of the player’s home.
In addition to the standard bingo games (90, 75 ball etc) most online games offer sidegames such as slots and scratchcards.
Online chat is also a major part of many bingo sites and allows the player to feel connected to the other people playing the game, just as it used to be in the bingo halls.
The future of bingo
As far as the future goes, online bingo almost certainly has a very bright and long lasting one.
Barring any sudden changes in the UK gambling laws, the popularity of online bingo looks set to continue.
Accessibility will be a key factor in making bingo played online even more popular than ever before. As so many people, especially the young, have access to the internet in one way or another, it makes the game so much more accessible to new players.
Whereas trying bingo for the first time used to involve venturing down to the local club, all a person has to do now is click on a site and start playing.