Welcome to Brett’s Corner – a monthly column by the 2006 Bingo Caller Of The Year and GalaTV caller.
So, what about this smoking ban eh? All across the nation, people are walking outside (or wading outside, depending on what part of England you are from at the moment!) to get their nicotine fix. The non-smokers are rejoicing at fume-free public buildings whereas the smokers up and down the land are berating the government and constantly harping on about ‘human rights’. But like it or not the ban is in place and all of the leisure and entertainment industry have to deal with the new legislation.
How is it affecting the Bingo at the moment then? I can only comment on my club, (I have recently moved from my tiny club in Bognor to a huge Bingo hall in Bristol) and the difference from June 30th to July 1st was dramatic-but not in the way you would think:
The first thing you notice now are the smells. Before the ban the only thing you could smell was the overwhelming stench of smoke. It would cover every crevice and attach to everything. When you got home after a night of Bingo your clothes smelt like you had been rolling around in an ashtray! Now all you can smell is food from the diner, fresh air and the occasional bit of B.O from Derek on table 342 (sorry Derek!)
The next thing you notice is the fact that you can now SEE. You’re no longer looking through a sea of smoky fog. My first club had no air conditioning and I constantly went home after work with my eyes red raw and my throat feeling like sandpaper. The smoking ban was put in place to protect the health and well-being of employees working in public places and in my opinion (as an ex-smoker I’m a preacher!) that’s the best thing to come out of this new legislation.
But, how is it affecting the Bingo industry? In our club we had a few customers saying that they were never coming back if they couldn’t smoke indoors, but the majority of our smoking customers are still coming in, so the impact on bums on seats are minimal. The only negative aspect at present is that the smokers leave the building during the breaks to have a cigarette, or are turning up at the last minute to play Bingo, which means the interval games/diner/bars etc are all being affected.
In the short term, the Bingo sector will be hit hard with the smoking ban, especially as we are already being unfairly treated by the government at the moment with being double-taxed. But I feel that this ban will be a temporary blip in the progress that Bingo has been making in the last 20 or so years. Smoking customers will soon adapt their habits around the Bingo (just as they done when smoking was banned on planes/trains/tubes/cinemas/theatres etc) and I’m sure when the winter months are upon us, people will decide to stay in a warm Bingo hall than go out to have a puff!
Also, with the new gaming act coming into effect on 1st September we are looking forward to bigger games with huge, rollover jackpot prizes, so there is a light at the end of this smoking tunnel! With over 600 Bingo clubs across the land/countless Bingo websites (like this great one!) and now with the interactive Bingo TV market (GalaTV and BigBoxBingo) offering Bingo to a brand new audience, it’s never been a better time to be a Bingo player, whether a smoking one or not!