Why Is Bingo So Popular in the UK ?

Today it is well known that the largest online bingo market is in the United Kingdom. Bingo has been popular for years and when the game went online in 1996 it was an instant hit in the UK and the United States. But why is bingo so wildly popular in the UK? A quick look at the history of the game in Britain will reveal all the answers. During the Great War bingo was the only gambling game that soldiers in the trenches were allowed to play. After World War Two holiday camps sprang up all over Britain and bingo achieved widespread popularity among those on holiday at the camps. In the 60’s the UK changes the gambling laws and massive bingo halls appeared in every major city. In just a few short years there was hardly a town or hamlet without its own bingo club.

Bingo halls provided people with an alternative to dance halls and pubs and was inexpensive compared with other forms of live entertainment and gambling.  Many in the bingo industry call the 60’s and 70’s the ‘golden age of British bingo.’ Two major bingo companies appeared; Gala and Mecca. Both operators invested in refurbishing old cinemas that were capable of seating hundreds of players. The introduction of television emptied most cinemas and bingo chains could purchase the old theatres for a song.

In 1968 the Gaming Bill imposed a strict set of regulations that caused many independent halls to close. This allowed companies like Mecca and Gala to dominate the British bingo market. Bingo became so ingrained that many of the game’s terms were incorporated into the national language. The game retained its popularity through the 80’s and 90’s. In the 1990’s some bingo operators were faced with aging facilities and decided to replace them with modern bingo halls. Today many palatial bingo halls remain as a testament to the game’s growth and popularity.

In the first decade of the 21st century threats to the land based bingo industry appeared. In 1996 the first online bingo sites were launched but most land based operators did not consider them as a serious threat. The national smoking ban changed all that. Studies done at the time showed that an overwhelming majority of bingo players were smokers. Many switched to online bingo and some online bingo operators reported an 80% increase in the number of players. Increased broadband access and faster computer speeds made the online version of bingo available to more players.

Today there are over four hundred online bingo sites competing for British players. Bingo giants like Mecca and gala have their own online bingo operations.  Game developers have created new bingo variations. The addition of a younger tech savvy generation of bingo players ensures the game’s popularity in the UK will continue well into the future.

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