New operators can aid bingo recovery

New operators can aid bingo recovery

Tuesday, September 8, 2015
Embrace new developments, Smeeth insists

Land-based bingo should embrace new technology and new operators, according to Ruth Smeeth, the new chair of the UK All Party Parliamentary Group on Bingo (APPGB).

The sector has endured a tough period, with tax changes, the smoking ban and market changes leading to the closure of almost three quarters of halls in the last 30 years.

However, with the reduction of bingo duty last year and growing anecdotal evidence that bingo hall demographics are changing, Smeeth, the MP for Stoke North and Kidsgrove, said that the industry has been aided by modernisation and wants to see new entrants, such as pub chains, join the established bingo operators. Greene King - which owns 1,600 pubs - was initially denied a gaming licence by the Gambling Commission in 2014, but that ruling was overturned and the application is again pending at present.

Smeeth, speaking to the Sentinal newspaper, said: “As we go forward I will be looking to consolidate the bingo duty cut. Then we can look at how to help the industry grow.

“One idea is to create a cross-over between beer and bingo with companies like Greene King looking to get a bingo licence.

“The role bingo halls play is extremely important. They can be the hub of a community.

“It's good to see more people going to bingo halls again and the age profile is getting younger. Part of that is down to the advent of new technology.

“Players can now use iPads to play their games, meaning they can play more lines and the numbers flash up. It is definitely more engaging.”

The Bingo Association trade group says that it plans to meet regularly with Smeeth to discuss what help can be offered to the industry by politicians.

Miles Baron, chief executive of the Bingo Association, said: “We are really pleased to be able to count on Ruth’s support and look forward to working with her in the months ahead.”

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