Surprise Bingo Hall Closures

Over a three day period news has come in that another three bingo halls are due to close in the near future. One of them is an independent, but what is surprising is that the other two are Mecca and Gala clubs.

When the bingo tax cut was announced in this year’s budget the response from the big chains was a very positive one, both mentioning potential expansion, and the shoring up of their current operations, not a hint of closure at all.

The independent due to close is Ace Bingo in Cheltenham which is set for demolition, and is the only remaining bingo hall in the town. The site is due to become a new apartment block, but as yet the club is still operating with no confirmed date of closure. The club has been going since the 60s, but, of late numbers have fallen, although the club manager has hinted that the venue could potentially still be up and running a couple of years from now, so, there is the possibility (perhaps slim) of a reprieve for staff and players. More.

Gala Bingo in Dartford which is still currently open has been put up for sale and is likely to be transformed into a place of worship as the agents specialise in this particular type of sale. The good news there is that when churches take over bingo halls they tend to leave the structure and decor relatively intact.

This is a bit odd, especially as bingo halls are technically ‘dens of sin’, however, it may be explained by the fact that many of the halls taken over by churches were originally theatres as in the case of the Spital Road, and often the interior design is not entirely out of keeping with a place of worship.

I phoned the club earlier to confirm that they are still open after reading that “The sales brochure also states – ‘no unsupervised viewings. Staff not aware’.”, but did not let the cat out of the bag when speaking to the lady on reception, *winks*. More.

The Mecca Club in Dean Road, South Shields is being closed as the lease renewal is not going to be extended. No solid explanation of the closure on September 14 has been offered, so it can be assumed that the long term profit and loss forecast for the club did not justify a lisence renewal. More.

While this is obviously bad news, three clubs announcing closure within the space of three days is hopefully not as ominous as it sounds. The Rank group are actually talking about launching new clubs, although not under the Mecca brand, so at least the big players hasn’t given up on bingo yet. Having said that, if I open my mail on Monday to find announcements of more closures, I’ve got a nice Fedora that I’ll be smothering in ketchup before eating it.

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