The past couple of decades have been tumultuous for the land based bingo industry. The only real reprieve came from the taxation reduction in the 2015 budget which was literally a lifeline for many struggling bingo halls.
One main perceived threat to bingo halls has been the growth in online bingo. We say ‘perceived’ as we have yet to see any research which ‘proves’ that Foxy and friends are actually stealing customers from the halls. If the internet ‘broke’ overnight would we really see the bingo halls being flooded with desperate new players or, are online players a different species altogether?
And, don’t forget that the growth in social media and other stay at home distractions such as Netflix are relatively new. Research is already showing that the increased ‘connectivity’ of Facebook et al is not what it seems, and in many cases leads towards loneliness rather than happiness. We could in the near future be seeing a backlash against the chains of technology that could only be good for land based bingo as people come to realise that tablets etc are actually unhealthy both mentally and physically for many people (although they do serve many purposes).
We do still see club closures, but the rate has decreased greatly over the past couple of years, particularly (or coincidentally?) since the budget reduction of bingo taxation. And, we have seen new clubs opening. There appears to be a slow but sure trend of the return of the small chain, and the bingo inspired club nights have not gone away.
The industry may not be booming, but bearing in mind the financial struggles, the recent 1% annual increase of custom reported by Rank owned Mecca Bingo is definitely good news. And, don’t forget that all this has been going on during a period of austerity and uncertainty for the future. 1%, may not be a gargantuan increase, but it is a step in the right direction. In short, the signs are looking good, and perhaps cause for optimism. Onwards and upwards!