Gala Bingo in Falkirk will be having a comedian onstage every Friday in April as the the latest ‘get ’em through the door’ initiative. It starts tonight with Scottish funnyman Bruce Fummey who will be taking the stage at 10pm after the main session has finished.
He will be followed over the coming weeks by Billy Kirkwood on the 18th, and on April 25 by Bill Dewar. Apparently comedy is a bit thin on the ground in Falkirk, so this may be a very smart move by the manager, and we’re hoping the evenings will attract a few bingo converts.
The purpose of the evenings is also to break down stereotypical perceptions of what a night out at the bingo is like. More. It’s another attempt to kill off bingo’s blue rinse image, one of many over recent years, and we’re hoping that it works, as to date, no magic formula has been created to elevate bingo out of this slightly true, but overworked perception.
Previous initiatives have included strippers, live entertainment, and even ‘noisy bingo’ rooms, where younger people can chat and drink while their cards are marked off electronically. But as yet to no avail. However, with the tax reduction, clubs may have a bit of leeway when it comes to budget restrictions and a bit of experimentation.
To date however, it would appear that many of the marketing ploys have come from the clubs’ managers, not central management of the chains themselves (please correct me if I’m wrong on that by leaving a comment below). Now that practically every club in the UK is a member of the Bingo Association, and they’ve just had a glorious victory perhaps the Association could turn it’s efforts to combating this perception. Apart from the Mecca’s pilot venture into the creation of ‘young people friendly venues’ (which was pulled due to a lack of success) the attempt to change bingo’s image seem to be falling to a array of proactive individuals acting independently.
Obviously the major chains have their marketing divisions, and obviously bingo clubs are in competition with each other. But it would perhaps be in the interest of the bingo industry as a whole to pool together their knowledge, experience, and ideas for the future in a concerted effort to form a coherent approach to the problem. We know that the B.A. can do good work as we’ve just seen, and it would be great if they orchestrate a plan of action to deal with what may be one of bingo’s biggest long term threats.