John Kelly rejoins Gala Leisure to spearhead bingo opportunities

John Kelly rejoins Gala Leisure to spearhead bingo opportunities

Monday, June 4, 2018 Posted by Joseph Streeter
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Kelly brings a wealth of experience to the role

John Kelly, arguably the most experienced of senior figures in the bingo industry and founder of the Gala Coral Group, has joined Gala Leisure as its non-executive chairman. His latest tenure comes as Gala moves to complete a £40m overhaul of its operations. These include a rebrand to Buzz Bingo and establishing an online bingo presence.

Kelly, who was most recently chairman of Ladbrokes Coral prior to its March takeover by GVC, will be seen as good fit with Gala Leisure and its aspirations thanks to his detailed knowledge of bingo and his reputation as a moderniser in the sector.

Gala hopes that the rebrand will re-invigorate local communities and spark fresh appeal for bingo and the ‘buzz’ of playing, as well as attracting new audiences into bingo halls across the UK. And chief executive Chris Matthews is already waxing lyrical about the Kelly appointment. In a statement to press he noted: “As we begin our new strategy and look towards online in the future, we are delighted to bring John back to where he started, having founded the Gala operations. He shares my vision for the potential of Buzz Bingo and his deep knowledge of the sector is unparalleled.”

The newly installed non-exec chairman has a big job ahead, with 124 bingo sites set to undergo a full rebrand while keeping more than one million customers happy in the process. However, he believes that the leisure firm has a strong strategic plan in place with an equally strong team to see it through.

Totally Gaming says: what Kelly brings to the table at Gala Leisure is the enviable quality of being able to marry traditional street gaming values with cutting edge ideas, two things that bingo must successfully combine to negate an identity crisis going forward. He will need to draw deeply on all those years of experience to put the ‘buzz’ back into a maturing bingo market and ensure it remains viable and attractive to future generations of players.

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