It seems my friends are divided into two camps. Those who play, or are involved in bingo, and therefore appreciate it, and those that pull a funny face whenever you mention it. It seems that there is little or no middle ground. How can I move the disbelievers and the antagonists into being at least ambivalent towards Bingo, if not mildly receptive to its charms?
Chatting about this to my usual circle of Bingoists, we agreed that it’s very rare for anyone who has the Bingo-bug, to lose it. Even if circumstances (young family, loads of work, moving abroad, prison, joining a monastic order etc) prevent you from indulging, I’ve never found anyone who has said that if the opportunity arose in different circumstances, they’d come back to the beautiful game (not football, Bingo!)
Be it online or land-based, if you have ever liked the game, and find an opportunity to chat about it or play it, then you probably will. So why is it that those who turn their nose up at it, aren’t prepared to give it any lea-way or at least give it a try?
Well, I tried to challenge those of my non-Bingo playing friends, and from one, the reaction I got is the title for this article: "Oh For Heaven’s Sake. What’s so Good About Bingo??!"
So, I took a deep breath (and a deep draught of Theakston’s Old Peculiar, a particularly fine ale) and gave the following
• The UK Bingo industry is extremely diverse, with operators varying from larger players such as Mecca and Gala to the hundreds of small, independent clubs. It’s not all a mega-corporation thing like MacDonald’s or any corporate-run thing where the attempt seems to be to standardise, conform and straight-jacket the consumer into performing in a particular way.
• Bingo generates billions of pounds in stake money, and contributed over £100 million in taxes to the UK economy in the last financial year. So don’t talk to me about punishing the gambler- Bingo players have contributed a lot to the UK, a lot more than some bankers!!
• The industry employs 16,000 people across the country and is played by over three million people every week. That’s a pretty big industry! People aren’t forced to play it, so why do they? Because they enjoy it, because for a small outlay they have a chance for a win, and because...
• Bingo plays a vital role in the communities it serves, with clubs acting as a key social facility for locals of all ages. They provide a friendly, welcoming, safe environment for players who feel equally at ease going with friends and family or alone. If you are planning to move to a new area, like I did before I moved to Crystal Palace, South London 10 years ago, there’s nowhere better to go and meet people and get a feel for the area and what it has to offer, than a Bingo session at the local Hall (sadly now closed down).
• Bingo helps address the increasingly important issues of social isolation and active aging that are becoming so apparent in modern societies. Sadly , for some people I have spoken to, the three visits to the bingo a week, are the only activities that get them motivated enough to dress up and leave the house or the retirement Home.
And finally for me, it’s a game that’s easy to learn...
My non-Bingo friends’ reaction in part two...