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Bingo's Coming Home!


Tuesday 14 December 2010 00:59

There’s no doubting the fact that bingo is back! The de rigueur game of the sixties, that fell out of favour in the eighties and nineties, is currently going through a massive revival that’s seeing a younger crowd and even bigger jackpots...

Bingo rose to prominence in the UK during the 1950s and 60s as Housey-Housey, a game that was often played to raise money for churches, working men’s clubs and other charities.

The game’s simplicity and the chance of real excitement made it incredibly popular, though anti-gambling legislation continually blocked it from being open to a mass market. Despite this, Butlins and Warners, who were then the country’s largest two holiday chains, would often run charity games because demand was so high.

By the late 1950s, it was becoming clear that the British people simply weren’t ready to accept anti-gambling legislation, and the government looked for ways to regulate an industry that had been steadily growing.

In the early sixties, the process of legalisation began and on January 3rd 1961, the first commercial bingo club opened. By 1963 the industry boasted over 14 million members nationwide and bingo had entered into its first hey-day.

Diana Dors, Cilla Black, Max Bygraves and Tommy Steele could be seen in bingo clubs up and down the country, while international stars like Cassius Clay would pass through for a taste of real Britain. The national press were regularly reporting thousands of pounds in winnings, and a 1966 Gallup poll revealed that almost a quarter of the country had enjoyed a game in the previous twelve months.

Throughout the 80s however, bingo’s popularity waned as the game became known more as the preserve of the ‘blue rinse brigade’ and major clubs like Mecca and Rank began to fall into disrepair. Bingo had gone the same way as Butlins and Warners, as a symbol of un-cool Britannia.

More recently though. The game’s been making news again as online bingo halls like Jackpotjoy have been overseeing the game’s return to prominence.

“Online bingo is immeasurably different to the offline game,” explains head of Jackpotjoy, Adele Lawton. “We offer loads of different rooms for players to enjoy, so there’s somewhere where everyone can feel at home and enjoy the chance of a big win.”

Jackpotjoy has been running for eight years now. The site give away over £1 billion a year in winnings, and register more transactions on their site per day than the London Stock Exchange. Their latest ad campaign, featuring Barbara Windsor as the Queen of Bingo, and has seen the site become a household name.

“For me, though, one of the biggest differences between online and offline bingo is that there are no dabbers online,” Adele explains, “so the old ‘eyes down’ mentality is no longer enforced.

“Modern games are social, relaxed and friendly. We offer great chat facilities, with friends’ lists and chat games that make for a really welcoming atmosphere. You can make new friends and really enjoy the experience.”

Also, because online bingo halls are open all the time, players can always find a game that fits around their schedule.

“This is a very important point as well,” Adele points out. “A lot of our players work unsocial hours, or have other commitments at home, which means going out to meet people or visit a club just isn’t an option. Online bingo offers thousands of people the chance to enjoy an exciting, social experience without leaving the comfort of their living rooms.

“It’s genuinely one of the great gaming revolutions of the past decade.”

You can experience online bingo for free at who are currently offering a very generous deposit £10 and get £30 to play welcome bonus.

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