Well, Happy New Year to all our readers – been as it’s the time of year, I thought I’d share some of my selected highlights from 2006, and thoughts for what will happen in 2007 for Bingo in the UK, off and online.
In 2006 the biggest news has been the Scottish Bingo industry’s losses in the face of the Scottish smoking ban. Currently Scottish industry members are seeking a rebate from the government to help ease their losses. Unfortunately, a large number of clubs are still in danger of closing.
2007 will be a tough year for the high street operators thanks to the introduction of the smoking ban in England in Wales. It’ll begin in April for Wales, and July for England. There still seems to be a lack of initiative from the industry about how to cope and modify their offerings to stop the hit in profits seen in Scotland.
A number of robberies in the south east of the country has caused concern – clubs have been targeted by armed gangs that see them as soft targets. Hopefully this trend will not continue into 2007 and clubs will be able to operate as they already do without excessive security.
2006 was a high profile year for Bingo. A lot of companies have been making the most of the media to advertise and get the message across, painting Bingo as a trendy game for a new generation. This has been helped by news events like Prince William dropping in to the Reading Mecca for a game. Other highlights in Bingo advertising have included Sharon Osbourne’s new ITV show being sponsored by Gala Bingo and also the new Gala Bingo TV channel.
Expect to see a lot more advertising for Bingo on TV and in the press during 2007, given the industries need to get new and healthier players to the clubs to replace the smokers who’ll stay home. The wise companies will start once again trying to give the game a makeover in the eyes of the public.
Back in November Brett Hyrjak won the 2006 Bingo Caller Of The Year competition. Brett was the South’s regional heat winner and bookies second favourite for winning the competition.
The annual Bingo of Caller of the Year competitions will start in the Spring with entries for the national competition opening and the chain only competitions gearing up. Expect to see maybe a documentary or film following the competition as public interest grows in the game.
In 2006 the online version of the game has exploded with over a hundred operators offering UK 90 Ball Bingo – the game is fast growing as an online gaming destination. There were a few low points along the way, noticeably Gala mysteriously disappearing then reappearing and some less than perfect offers and operators spring to mind.
The explosion is set to continue thanks partially to the UK government’s friendly attitude and plans for the introduction online gaming licenses. They hope to entice the best gaming operators to set up shop in the UK and it will be interesting to see how it pans out and the final plans. The smoking ban should also drive more players online. Also, I think we can expect to see more big brands offer their own Bingo offerings with network providers like St Minvers and Globalcom.
2006 also saw the introduction of the US gambling ban, which has had a knock on effect for a number UK focused online operators. 2006 was a busy year!
As for Playing Bingo, we’ll keep bringing you news, opinion and stories from the game – we’ll try to get a lot more reviews done and add some more guides and stories. We’ll also do more work to inform you of bad practice and less than ideal operators in the online market as well as celebrating the best and good practice where we see it. All in all, it’s set to be a hectic 2007!