In Britain's bingo capital, love for the game endures - GulfToday

In Britain's bingo capital, love for the game endures

More women play bingo than men. AFP

Historically beloved by British grandmothers, the game sees players win payouts if they match sets of numbers between one and 90 announced by a caller -- traditionally shouting "bingo!" when they mark off all their numbers.

Margret Fisher said that she had once scooped £2,000 in prize money. But normally players at her club can hope to win up to £1,000 at Sunday night games and up to half that midweek.


Customers play bingo  at the MECCA  bingo Hall in the East End of Glasgow. AFP

Unlike other gambling games, bingo tends to attract more women than men.

Analyses show the ratio is typically 80:20 women to men, according to The Bingo Association chief executive Miles Baron, a former marketing chief for the Rank gambling company.

Bingo is believed to have originated in Italy in the 16th century, spreading to neighbouring European countries and beyond over the centuries.


Bingo historically beloved by British grandmother. AFP

It had its heyday in Britain in the 1960s but its popularity continues in some places, none more so than in Glasgow.

At least 14 clubs remain across Scotland's biggest city and its suburbs, more than anywhere else in Britain, according to The Bingo Association.

In Glasgow bingo has also been strongly associated with the working class, often handed down from one generation to the next.


The game of bingo has embraced technology. AFP

"My mum went with her gran, and then as soon as I was old enough she was like 'you're coming to bingo!'" said 22-year-old Nicole Croly, also at the gargantuan club, run by gaming brand Mecca, in the city's gritty East End.

"I've just been hooked on it ever since."

Mecca has shed some of the traditional strictures of the game, such as maintaining absolute silence when numbers are being called out by offering sections in which people can chat whilst playing.

It has also embraced technology, offering digital pads to play on instead of traditional paper number books, and staging pop music-fuelled nights aimed at a younger clientele.

Agence France-Presse