At 6am yesterday morning England joined the rest of the UK with the introduction of the smoking ban. It’s now illegal to smoke in any enclosed public spaces anywhere in the UK – including the 600+ Bingo halls around the country. We’ve been covering this for a while now, the Bingo industry has been in turmoil with the expectations of the forecast losses and closures and there’s been no end of articles and campaigns in the wider press mooting the death of the game.
Here at Playing Bingo I’ve continually mentioned that the industry should see the ban as an opportunity to expand its core audience and find exciting new business avenues rather than roll over play victim. Personally I welcome the ban, and think this could be just the opportunity the industry needs to shed its still stereotyped image in the media by attracting a younger and healthier audience.
This new audience needs to be serviced alongside the existing audience though – let’s not forget them, the smokers still want to play, and if they’re going outside, there’s even more avenues for mobile gaming yet to be explored. The first tentative steps have been taken, but there’s still a lot out there to try.
So, amidst all the worry and hype, it’s good to catch the news from the Times Online at the end of last week that Mecca Bingo’s parent company Rank have seen their share prices rise. The rise is partially based on early signs of a recovery in the admissions and takings in post-ban Scotland, and the continued growth of their online arm. It is however, expecting profit’s to drop later this year now that the ban has hit its biggest customer base in England.