Drive-in Bingo?

Bingo is popular across the UK, both the land based bingo game and the online bingo game, and just about every town has its own High Street bingo hall or club. Live bingo has a long and colorful history and each individual bingo hall had its own culture and customs. In 2006 tragedy struck the live bingo industry when Parliament passed a national smoking ban. After implementation of the ban attendance at live bingo games dropped dramatically. At the time it was estimated that about 60% of all bingo players were smokers. Many bingo halls tried to find ways around the ban but most attempts were unsuccessful. One bingo hall added an outside area so smokers could play bingo and smoke. One enterprising bingo provider offered smokers bingo ‘cruises’ where games would take place in international waters where the smoking ban does not apply.

Despite the attempts to get smokers back to bingo halls, attendance at live games continues to decline. Across the UK, bingo halls are closing at a rapid rate. Bingo providers cite a combination of the smoking ban, double taxation of bingo halls, the current recession and the increasing popularity of internet bingo as factors leading to the decline of live bingo. Recently an enterprising entrepreneur in Ireland has come up with a new and highly original version of bingo-‘drive in bingo’.

Many older people will remember the days of drive in movie theaters. People would drive to the outdoor theatre, park, put the speaker in their window and watch movies. Bingo event organizer Seamus Davis says that drive in bingo has been well received. Although at present drive in bingo is confined to County Meath Ireland Davis says he expects drive in bingo to spread to other parts of the UK. Players drive in, turn off their engines and buy bingo cards. When a player wins they honk their horn and an organizer comes to their car and hands them their winnings. About the new games Davis stated, “It’s also a great laugh and there’s been a lot of positive reaction. You can relax in your own car with friends or family, have a smoke if you want, and enjoy the game and not worry about parking. It is really catching on, and word of mouth is helping out with this.” Drive-in bingo has many of the advantages of playing at online bingo sites, however you get to be in close proximity to your friends. Trials of drive in bingo have also been started in Dublin and Wexford.

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