BUSINESS

Mecca Try a Brave New World at Reading Bingo Hall

TAGs: Ian Burke, Lee Davy, Mecca Bingo, Rank Group, Reading

mecca-try-a-brave-new-world-at-reading-bingo-hallMecca Bingo Trials a New Innovative Approach to Lure its Online Members into the Brick and Mortar Bingo Halls of the UK

A large majority of the UK gambling population started out in one of three ways. They were either introduced to fruit machines in the local cafe and chip shops, their father allowed them to make a bet on the Grand National or they played Bingo with their parents during the quintessential British holiday.

Bingo has always been massive in the UK. Walk into any constitutional, or labor club, on a Saturday night and there will be someone calling out ‘legs eleven’ and even more people wolf whistling back. The cast will be largely female between the ages of 30 & 100. For the men, Bingo is not tough enough and for the youngsters it simply isn’t cool enough.

But recent figures show that Bingo now owns 17% of the gambling market in the U.K, with online bingo creating the lion share with an incredible increase of 155% over the past five years. So who is sitting at home playing online bingo? Is it the same females between the ages of 30-100? Rank Group Chairman and CEO, Ian Burke, the owner of Mecca Bingo, believes that there is a younger demographic logging on at home, and he is keen to see them don their best sweats and head to the Bingo halls; where revenue dipped by 1% to £115.7m in the six months leading up to Dec 31st, in stark contrast to the 11% growth to £30.4m witnessed by the online offering.

Burke isn’t just hoping that fate will drag these skinny butts into the Bingo halls either. Instead, there are plans to do something quite different in the Mecca Bingo Hall in Reading. Burke plans to create the first electronic Bingo hall where players use iPad type electronic tablets, instead of the usual paper and blotter.

This idea of combining online and a live offering in this fashion was one that was the brainchild behind the International Stadiums Poker Tour (ISTP). The worse poker PR disaster in history started out as a hybrid event where people would play in a live setting, but on electronic equipment. The idea was later dropped as the organizers realized that they couldn’t secure an online network for such a large group of people. The recent Team PokerStars v Full Tilt Professionals Battleships Style Heads-Up encounter at the European Poker Tour (EPT) in London, was another attempt to bring the two genres closer together.

Mr. Burke told the Telegraph: “Electronic gaming offers all sorts of additional benefits to players. I wouldn’t describe our handheld devices as an iPad, but it’s the same principle. Like many people, three years ago I would never have imagined iPad’s being as popular or as successful as they are.

“A lot of people love the tactile aspect of playing bingo with paper and pen and I imagine that will be around for a long, long time to come. But playing bingo electronically is much more akin to playing it on the Internet except it’s done in a social and community setting.”

 One thing is for sure; it has never been a better time to trial something different. Mecca Bingo customers have increased by 4% to 1.1 million. The game has never been so popular.

Legs eleven…woo-woo!

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