New £5m Gala Bingo club hints at new era for sector

New £5m Gala Bingo club hints at new era for sector

Monday, January 18, 2016 Totally Gaming
Simon Wykes has great hopes ahead of next week's opening of the Antelope Park site

Simon Wykes, chief executive of Gala Bingo, has promised the “best bingo club in Britain” ahead of the opening of the firm's first new club for nine years later this month.

The UK giant will open its £5m ($6.6m/$7.2m) Antelope Park site in Southampton on January 31, promising a “leisure experience” rather than traditional bingo. 

The move was announced last July following the government’s announcement of a reduction of bingo tax from 20 per cent to 10 per cent, and comes after a decade of difficulty for the sector through regulatory and tax changes as well as the smoking ban.

Speaking to TotallyGaming.com, Wykes said that plans are going well ahead of the opening.

“We are delighted with the number of members we have attracted which is ahead of our internal targets,” Wykes said. “We have run an integrated marketing campaign, in addition we also recruited a fantastic team to help us reach our target.

“We are very proud of the club and believe we have built the best bingo club in the Britain. We are positive that this will result in Antelope Park being a very successful bingo club for us.”

Wykes, whose company has more than 130 bingo clubs and around 30 per cent of the UK market, told TotallyGaming.com that the brand’s £240m purchase late last year by Caledonia Investment did not affect the launch of the Antelope Park project. The site features a 500-seat traditional bingo hall, a lighter, modern bingo pub, a heated outdoor bingo garden, where punters are allowed to smoke, and a modern arcade.

Wykes said that good quality food and service will be at the heart of the project, as will a focus on the latest technology, with more than 50 per cent of members now choosing to play on tablets rather than bingo books.

“Not only do we offer great products in zoned environments , we are also moving forward on service," Wykes said. “Bingo has always attracted friendly, chatty teams but we are increasingly focused on removing queues. 

"Our digital tablets play a key part in this. Once you've picked up your tablet from one of our racks and found your lucky seat, you can then relax and let us look after you. You can buy and play your favourite bingo and slots games and even order something to eat or drink from your tablet, all from the comfort of your seat.

“Whilst bingo remains timeless, our investment in product, service and environment ensures that customers get a high quality, contemporary leisure experience and the chance to win.”

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