It seems the England and Wales smoking ban is already starting to bite at Mecca Bingo. The company has announced the closure of nine Bingo halls around the UK today. Clubs in Fulham, Islington, Kingston-upon-Hull, Liverpool, Reading, Sheffield, Swansea, Welling and Wolverhampton have all been earmarked to be closed and 230 staff positions affected.
The company states its aim is to improve the quality of its clubs portfolio in preparation for the introduction of the smoking ban in England and Wales. The clubs are in areas where their are a number of Mecca properties, so members will not be completely losing their Bingo.
It sounds to me like they’re working at squeezing their current non-smoking members into less clubs, rather than trying to improve the membership range at the existing clubs to make up for the expected loss of the smokers. It seems defeat is being admitted before the battle has even been fought. I know for a fact, it’s not going to impress their members in the clubs that are closing, expecting them to go to another club. It’s not just the location that is lost, it’s the whole culture and atmosphere.