As of 00:01 on Wednesday 14th October, we saw another new set of government social distancing guidelines put into place across England. A new ‘tier’ system was announced in order to help with more localised lockdowns in the unfortunate event of a virus spike, and once again, we saw the leisure, hospitality and entertainment sectors take the biggest hit – including bingo halls.
The new measures have meant that certain businesses have been forced to close their doors again – hopefully temporarily – and others are having to make quite significant changes in order to stay open. Jobs are at risk, and it seems we may be heading into a new period of uncertainty yet again, and Mecca Bingo boss – John O’Reilly, has talked openly about concerns over the bingo industry going forward…
Are New Measures Putting The Bingo Sector At Risk Again?
With all bingo halls shutting up shop early now by 10pm – or even closing their doors entirely – how will the industry cope now going forward, and what will be the impact on the bingo hall business as a whole?
We’ve seen a lot of unfortunate closures this year already, and these new measures could now see even more devastating blows, as it’s no secret that the bingo hall business was already suffering before the pandemic even hit in 2020.
According to a recent article in This Is Money, John O’Reilly, whose company Rank Group owns 77 Mecca Bingo halls and 51 Grosvenor Casinos, spoke out about what he thinks are ‘illogical’ rules that have forced sites to close in some Covid hotspots – but not others.
He pointed out that while bingo was closed in Blackpool in Lancashire, it remains open across Merseyside, even though both regions are under the toughest Coronavirus curbs. He’s warned that closures and curfews are putting the bingo sector at risk, as well as affecting the wellbeing of his staff, many of whom now face a bleak winter without work.
The impact on colleagues is immense. They are bereft frankly. It seems wholly illogical that in Blackpool I can go to the door of the Grosvenor Casino, which is on one side of the seafront and shut, and I can turn and cross the road and walk into a public house serving steak and kidney pies and pints of lager and it’s heaving with people.
Last week, he wrote a letter to the Mayor of London asking to get the 10pm curfew lifted. He stated the following:
Our understanding of the curfew is that it was implemented to reduce the incidence of mainly young-adults drinking late into the evening and spreading the virus through failing to maintain appropriate social distancing.
The average age of our casino customers is 48, and the average age of our bingo customers is 57. The average spend on food and drink, per person, per visit, in one of our casinos in £4.20. In our bingo clubs it is £2.40. It is simply not the case that our venues are places where people come to drink.
What Does The future Hold Now For Bingo Clubs Across The UK?
It’s impossible to know really what lies ahead for most industries at the moment, however the leisure, hospitality and entertainment industries in particular could be on fairly shaky ground once again now going forward.
With infection cases rising, and more local areas heading towards tier 3, we may see more and more bingo clubs having to temporarily close their doors as we approach the winter months.
This could have a devastating impact on clubs up and down the country, and the bingo industry in general, but let’s hope they can survive any future blows that may (or hopefully may not) lie ahead. Only time will tell…