icWales have an article on the Bingo industry in south Wales, where, 6 months into the smoking ban, a clearer picture of losses related to the ban is appearing. According to a survey carried out by the South Wales Echo, many clubs are reporting a loss of between 15 and 20 per cent. Whilst so far I’ve not heard of any closures in South Wales beyond the Mecca hall in Swansea closed prior to the ban, the near future looks fraught with danger.
It directly echoes experiences in Scotland during the first year of the ban up there. Many smaller clubs working on low margins will be in danger, but the bigger clubs should be able to weather the storm and with a bit of innovation, find ways of clawing back customers with games which can be played in the smoking areas.
Many are expecting a tough Winter, with people less likely to go outside for a puff and choosing to stay at home instead. There is a ray of hope though – things have started to improve in Scotland, and if the Welsh halls care to take advantage of the relaxed advertising regulations, they may find it’s a good time to get some innovative advertising out there to attract a newer, healthier audience and get these new players in sooner (tip: think outside the box, and don’t rely on ageing TV personalities.)