For me, one of the highlights of the recent BBC Money Programme on Bingo was the appearance of Dr Carolyn Downs. She gave an historical overview of the growth of the game in the UK. Her knowledge was gained doing her PHD, which was a history of Bingo in the UK – through to the implementation of the 1968 Gaming Act.
After getting in contact with her, it turns out the research will be appearing in book form come the second half of 2007. This is certainly good news, there’s little out there about the history of the game in the UK. Remarkably, this year should see two books released which delve into the subject. As well as Dr Carolyn Down’s as yet untitled book, keep an eye out for one from Professor Keith Laybourn’s Working-Class Gambling In Britain c. 1906-1960s: In Search of Phantom Fortunes which also comes out in the latter half of 2007. Professor Laybourn’s book will feature a couple of chapters on Bingo’s shady history as a means of political fund raising.
Dr Carolyn Downs was kind enough to agree to do an interview for Playing Bingo – I was interested to ask her about what drew her to the game’s history, and how difficult it was to uncover. It’s fair to say it’s really whetted my appetite for the book.