Since the pandemic struck, bingo clubs have become one of the hardest-hit fields. In Scotland, most bingo clubs have been closed for nine out of the past ten months since the lockdown in March. Bingo clubs run with severe limitations even when open. Such constraints included decreased operating hours and a capacity of 25 percent.
That’s obviously unsustainable pushing players to Online Bingo sites and away from clubs. The Scottish Government has not provided any clear financial assistance to Bingo Clubs. With several clubs already shutting their doors, more than a thousand jobs are at risk as other clubs seriously consider permanent closure.
In order to cover the costs of bills, leases, services and job costs, bingo club operators have been forced to rely on small closure grants for their clubs, worth up to £ 3000 a month per month.
Over the past ten months, the bingo industry is reported to have lost more than £ 80 million in sales. The smaller and more independent UK bingo clubs face unique difficulties.
Saving Scottish bingo
Now, a movement to save Scottish bingo has been initiated by the Bingo Association. It follows a strong warning provided that if the Scottish Government does not provide financial help, local bingo clubs could become a thing of the past.
Significant contribution to local communities
Miles Baron, Chief Executive Officer of Scotland’s Bingo Association, said: “Bingo clubs have been entertaining a largely working-class, female, demographic since the 1960s and contribute significantly not only to our local economy but also to our local communities where they provide schemes intended to address the social isolation of many of our customers.
“It is therefore extremely difficult to explain to our valued customers, and our employees, why their pastime and job is seemingly of less importance to save than other entertainment and hospitality businesses, many of whom have received significant funding from the Scottish Government.
“Without support, the local bingo club could become a thing of the past. All we are asking is that the Scottish Government levels the playing field and grants us the same support that our friends and colleagues in hospitality, cinemas and nightclubs have all received.”
Heart of local communities
At Buzz Bingo, Regional Director Clive Newton said: “Our clubs really are at the heart of local communities. For many, visiting Buzz Bingo is a way to stay in touch and socialise with friends and family – it’s a real lifeline for people and something many miss terribly at the moment.
“That’s why we’re calling on the Scottish Government to help support the bingo industry in the same way they’ve supported other hospitality and entertainment businesses. Whilst clubs up and down the country remain closed for now, we want to ensure that when the world returns to normal, bingo clubs are able to reopen and welcome the community back once more.”
The new website for the campaign states: “The future of bingo in Scotland is at risk and we need your help to save it”, asking customers to write to ministers asking for the industry to receive hospitality-sector support.
“Bingo has been a mainstay of Scottish cultural life since the 1960s; many of our predominantly female customers see [it] as their main opportunity for a good night out, and a place they feel safe to visit.
“It is devasting to say that the future of this great cultural institution is at risk of collapse – some bingo clubs, particularly small independent operators, simply cannot survive this pandemic without additional financial support and may have no choice but to close their doors for good.”
If you have a moment, please send the Scottish Government an email. It is possible to access the campaign website here: https://bingoismylifeline.co.uk/scotland/