Myth: It will be bad for bingoReality: Smoking ban is killing off bingo halls
In the lead up to the smoking ban, pro smoking groups argued that the smokefree legislation was going to be particularly detrimental for both the profitability and long term outcomes of Bingo, with smokers more likely to stay home and use online gaming sites.
Reality: Gaming group Rank, which has 86 clubs in England said it was encouraged by performance at its Mecca bingo, with company shares up by 8.75%.5
Just three short months after the introduction of the smoking ban in England Bingo halls were feeling the wrath of the ASHite smoke haters in parliament as their venom spread.
New Century Bingo in Woolston, Southampton is the latest bingo hall to close despite having 4,500 members and having 1,500 regulars each week. It seems it cannot continue with people going outside to smoke or staying at home playing online bingo.It was no surprise then, because of the smoking ban experiment, that there is an upsurge of interest by land based bingo enthusiasts who liked a smoke whilst playing their favourite game, turned to online bingo.
New Century Bingo follows in the footsteps of other bingo halls which have been forced to close due to the smoking ban. Stardust Bingo in Wellingborough, Northamptonshire saw takings fall by 16 percent after the introduction of the ban. It had to close in August with the loss of 19 jobs. 10 bingo halls have closed in Scotland since the ban was enforced there in April 2006 and Rank have closed 9 of its Mecca bingo halls across England. It is likely more bingo halls will close due to the smoking ban.
Bingo players would travel long journeys across Southampton to go to the New Century Bingo hall which was converted from a Picture-house cinema in the 1970s. Many elderly players would attend the bingo hall and now they feel they have lost a community centre.
Assistant manager Rachel Edwards was also sad that the bingo hall had to close but believed it was inevitable. She said, “We have suffered since the smoking ban and there’s also the problem of online bingo everywhere and that has hit everyone. It is a sad day for people in Woolston.”Eight months later; the carnage continues:
Paul Redwood acting manager of New Century Bingo in Shirley added, “Unfortunately the smoking ban is affecting bingo halls around the country. Many independent places have closed or are closing.”
The bingo industry generates billions of pounds in stake money, and employs 20,000 people throughout the UK. However, since the smoking ban has been introduced, we have already seen a number of closures with experts predicting even more disaster, with up to one in three clubs facing possible closure.And north of the border, in my home country, now renamed the Soviet republic of Ashland:
It is estimated that half of bingo players are smokers, and many are in the habit of puffing and playing bingo at the same time, something that is longer possible. Neil Goulden, chief executive of Gala Bingo has stated "The effect of the smoking ban in Scotland has been a lot worse than we thought it was going to be," adding "We've actually lost 8% of our customer base who have stopped coming altogether."What the hell are Gala worried about, after all your company shares are up, aren't they?
Industry figures suggest that the number of clubs has slumped from more than 700 to about 590 in recent years as the impact of social changes has been exacerbated by the smoking ban, changes to gaming machine rules and the recession. Analysts are predicting a further 100 closures as a result of the recent tax rise.Oh how the bingo industry just loves you ASH (spit) for your truth and wisdom!
In March, Gala's backers conceded that their investments had become worthless, only a year after pumping in a further £125 million of equity.
The company has closed 13 bingo clubs and four casinos since the smoking ban and the scrapping of Section 21 gaming machines set the gaming industry on a long losing streak.
I can see nothing but the reality instead of the lies spat out so venomously by fake charities like ASH, CRUK and their ilk, realities like my good friend Martin Carroll, who is the proprietor of the Vogue Bingo Hall in Lanark (pics below), in the Soviet republic of Ashland.
A lovely old building that reminds me of the TARDIS in Dr. Who, small and unimposing on the outside but, oh boy, how elegant and majestic it is in the inside, I was overawed.
I was privileged to be at the Freedom2Choose (Scotland) AGM in 2008, which was held in Martin’s bingo hall. After the meeting I sat down with Martin and, with my dodgy video camera, I took two videos while we chatted. Warning, lighting is not very good and the inebriated interviewer is me. (Martin does not drink.)
Cause and effect:
I also would like to send my best wishes to your good lady wife and hope her illness regresses, my heart is with you both.
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