Smoking Ban Hits Spanish Bingo Halls

Land based bingo operators in the UK have bitter memories of the smoking ban that was imposed in 2007. Many bingo halls saw attendance decline by as much as 50% overnight. A survey taken at the time showed that about two thirds of all bingo players were smokers. Many bingo halls closed as a result of the ban and hundreds of employees found themselves suddenly unemployed. Bingo halls tried all sorts of gimmicks to lure smokers back without much success. It has been just over four years since the ban was imposed and many bingo halls are just starting to recover from the effects of the ban.

The implementation of the ban caused a sudden influx of players at online bingo sites. In the two years following the ban many bingo sites reported an 80% increase in player numbers. Some land based bingo operations launched their own bingo sites to remain profitable. In recent years both land based and online bingo operators have expanded their operations to other countries. The Spanish bingo market has grown rapidly in recent years and both land based and online operations have been profitable.

In January Spain followed the lead of several other European nations and imposed a strict national smoking ban. The ban has had predictable effects for bingo halls across Spain. Bingo giant Rank reported an astounding 18% drop in revenue. Rank and other bingo operators suffered a similar fate when the UK ban was implemented and many bingo halls closed. So far Rank has not announced any plans to close any of their Spanish bingo halls. When the ban was imposed in the UK Rank stopped the decline of their bingo hall chain in the UK by closing several unprofitable bingo halls and increasing attendance at others.

Since Rank is a major player in the Spanish bingo market most industry observers expect Rank to put their previous experience to work to deal with the effects of the smoking ban. The online bingo industry has made significant headway in Spain and the smoking ban will probably send thousands of players online to play at bingo sites instead of land based bingo halls. Rank already has a Spanish bingo site and most online bingo operators have yet to take advantage of the opportunities provided by the recent smoking ban in Spain. In the UK the rise in the online player base has generated a demand for live bingo and the same will probably happen in Spain.

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