Hello folks and welcome to 2009!!!!!!!! Just made the effort to stumble out of bed and get on my blog before having to go to work and pretend to be happy and joyous for 8 hours! (how many of us have to do that today?!?!?!?)
So I am looking back over my blogs and stories over the last 12 months in the bingo world and the recurrent theme seems to be ‘DOOM AND GLOOM’ Lots of news at the start of the year about bingo clubs closing ,not to mention the constant pressure by the bingo association to abolish the unfair double taxation on the industry……….before ultimately failing to get the government to listen to the industries pleas. These two pieces of information tally, because without this tax relief on the bingo clubs, more and more clubs in the country had no other choice but to downsize or shut their doors. Factor in the smoking ban in England and the government changing the way in which fruit machines are taxed/classed and that is the reason that we are saying that there are now around 500 bingo halls in the country as opposed to 600 odd just a couple of years ago! The only ray of sunlight though in this saga is the recent announcement from Rank about getting a rebate of nearly £60million back from the government. If this decision is upheld then expect to see a swarm of other bingo operators taking the government to the cleaners!!!!!
One of the few good points however about the 2006 gaming act is the ability to retain stake on prize money, basically meaning rollover jackpots. This has meant that there has never been a better time to win a life-changing amount down the local club. Countless stories throughout the year about regular people winning huge sums always means good publicity for the industry. But (and there always seems to be a ‘but’!) this increased prize potential has also meant more stories about prize money disputes between friends and families. Some disputes have even made it to the national press…..with the story about the brawling sisters fighting over £20k making it to one of the tabloids.
Speaking of money and disputes and the such-like there seemed to be a lot of articles about bingo robberies going on in the press in 2008……….some ranging from customers getting mugged for their winnings, to actual armed assaults on the clubs. However one of the saddest stories involve actual managers and staff being caught with there ‘hands in the till’. In-club thievery is something that struck a chord with me and I dedicated one of my 2008 blogs to it to raise some light on the situation.
Obviously the credit crunch has been in the forefront of the nations minds as well and the bingo industry hasn’t escaped from it either with plenty of stories about companies downsizing and consolidating there interests to keep the business tangible. However it is pleasing to know that the big companies were announcing a recent upturn in footfall in the bingo clubs towards the end of the year which could signal a revitalisation for the bingo halls in 2009. In my opinion a night out down the bingo is still a reasonably cheap night, especially when you compare it to a night at the cinema at £10 a ticket and £5 for popcorn or a trip to your local pub with drinks at £3 a pint!
One of the more personal pieces of bingo news for 2008 was the ‘postponement’ of the NBGA bingo caller of the year competition due to the ‘climate in the industry’. Even though I am no longer eligible for the contest (due to being on the telly) I was stilled saddened by the news……hopefully all will be sorted this year and the competition comes back bigger and better.
Here are some more snippets from 2008, some large some small, that were my favorites for varying reasons:
The daily mails new bingo site: wowsers.…the newspaper that likes to deride the whole gambling ethic, the paper that had more front page ‘horror stories’ about the initial 2006 gaming act proposals than any other………………..opens it’s own bingo site online!!!!!!!!!!!! Hypocrisy is a word that seems to have eluded these people! The good thing is though they seem to be centering there attentions on destroying the careers of overpaid TV celebrities at the moment so maybe bingo and the such-like will get a break from them this year!!!!!!
Nice stories of ‘sharing’ winners: we had a winner sharing £1.2million with her neighbour in March and another winner of over £1million sharing with there sister-in-law. No squabbles. no lawyers, no family break-ups. Just the way it should be.
Robbers set fire to themselves: I never like talking about armed robberies in the bingo (a few years ago this sort of thing was unheard of) but this story cheered me up as the robbers torched there getaway car…..with one of them getting set alight in the process!!!!!!!! HAHA!!!!
Gala link winners/losers: The sadist in me likes this story from December. Although the article mentions the winners I can’t help but think about the 1/4 of the players who opted out of the game. Just one question…………………Why?!?!?!?!
Bingo callers take on the Eggheads………and LOSE: It still grates with me that I slipped up on a question that I KNEW the answer to and that Judith guessed all of her answers correctly!!!!!!!!!!! Still it was a great day and one of my highlights of the year. It was funny as well because I was working on Gala TV the same night it was broadcast which meant that I was on TWO CHANNELS AT THE SAME TIME!!!!! That must have confused some people!!!!!!!
Ahh well…..I hope you all had a fantastic holiday period and are raring to go in 2009. Aim high and enjoy yourselves. See you soon!!!!!!!!