Britain’s Love Affair With Bingo

According to most industry experts the UK has the most active bingo scene on the planet. The game gained immense popularity during the postwar years and was played at the holiday camps that were popular during those years. The real story of British bingo actually begins in the swinging 60’s when Carnaby Street set the fashion standards for the emerging counterculture. In 1960 Parliament passed the Gaming Act which set the stage for the ‘golden age’ of British bingo.

Once bingo was a legal activity in licensed members-only club Eric Morley, the founder of Mecca Bingo, realized the potential mass appeal of bingo in Britain. After a visit to the United States Morley saw the commercial possibilities of bingo. Morley was already famous in England for bringing some glamour and entertainment to drab post was Britain with his Miss World beauty competition. At the time Mecca owned and operated several ballrooms. The ballrooms were losing popularity because of new leisure activities such as television. Morley saw bingo as the perfect way to repurpose the ballrooms.

For the most part Mecca used its glamorous ballrooms and converted cinemas to offer players an upscale bingo experience. Morley also added the now famous glass cabinets filled with numbered bingo balls. This contrasted with the boring US style of randomly picking numbers out of a bag and offered players a more exciting atmosphere. The glamour and affordability of the new bingo halls made them an instant hit with working class women. Throughout the 60’s and 70’s hundreds of bingo halls opened in Britain and Ireland. Unfortunately the glamour of the 60’s and 70’s faded in the 80’s and entertainment preferences changed. Cinemas reinvented themselves as multiplex theatres and disco style dance clubs appeared.

It became hard for bingo to compete with the new forms of entertainment and the population of bingo players began to age. Interest in the game revived in the 90’s and the first online bingo sites appeared on the internet. The advent of online bingo created a revolution in the domestic British bingo scene. Faster computer speeds and increased broadband access made the game even more attractive, especially for younger players. Today there are over 400 internet bingo sites on the internet and the online bingo industry has expanded into Scandinavia, Italy and Spain. Today Great Britain has the world’s most active bingo market. British bingo sites offer traditional 75 ball and 90 ball bingo games. Even better the games are very affordable and players can win serious amounts of cash.

Bingo has come a long way in Britain since Eric Morley opened the first mecca bingo hall. Today Mecca is owned and operated by gaming giant Rank Group. Earlier in the year Rank announced plans to refurbish and modernize several bingo halls to cater to the needs of the new generation of British bingo players.

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