UK Bingo History
Bingo as a game developed in the United Kingdom in a slightly different manner than other regions of the world. UK Bingo history is very intertwined in UK cinemas' history, as many of the cinemas were eventually turned into buildings offering Bingo play. Bingo, on the whole, has been around since the 1500's, at least. However, it was in the 1950's and 1960's that Bingo became incredibly popular in the United Kingdom, although it had been very popular in Europe prior to this point. In 1960's, the Gaming Act was passed in the UK, which opened up a number of new possibilities for businesses. It was during this time that Bingo was introduced into former cinemas. The implementation was widely considered to be an instant success. In many cases, Bingo games were started experimentally. The games would be played on certain days of the week, while films would be shown in the same buildings on the other days. In many instances, Bingo games completely overtook the cinema days in terms of popularity and attendance. One establishment, the Odeon Hemel Hempstead, continued their split of Cine-Bingo entertainment as late as 1995. Overall, many independent cinemas were able to transform into an equally impressive number of independent and physically located Bingo halls.
In many instances, the conversion of establishments from cinema to Bingo hall was a simple, easy and enjoyable process. The screens needed to be taken out and the appropriate Bingo apparatuses needed to be put into place. Lighting structures would be upgraded to allow Bingo players to better see their Bingo cards and the stall seating needed to be removed in order to allow for the implementation of tables and chairs. In the United Kingdom, there were instances of turning circle seating into the tables and chairs setup used in Bingo, but this was a very expensive renovation since steppings were required to be altered. There were some larger properties that were actually subdivided on the insides. The circle area may be converted into an area for movies, but the larger areas were designated to be used for the Bingo games. One famous example of this was the Cecil/Cannon Cinema in Hull.
In 1968, Parliament passed the Gaming Act of 1968. This act allowed clubs to introduce gambling within their structures. In many cases, this included sot machines. Bingo halls and such social clubs were, in fact, very social. Individuals could meet up, get a drink, have a meal and enjoy a fun and exciting game. Throughout the 1960's and 1970's, Bingo grew in popularity all over the United Kingdom.
It was during the 1990's that Bingo/Cinema buildings began to close down. They were shut down in order to make room for new, purposeful Bingo Halls. In many instances, these buildings were constructed just outside of the center of town. These locations were preferable due to their cheap land and increased floor space. Access was also improved upon for the disabled. The very first of these buildings was the Castle Club located at Canton in Cardiff. This building opened in 1988. It was in 1986 that the National Bingo Game was launched and played in Bingo halls. For this version of the game, games are played at the same time in all Bingo halls with a prize payout being offered.
Another important Act to the Bingo Industry took place in 2005. The Health Act of 2005 banned smoking in enclosed spaces as of July 2007. This was the first threat to physically located Bingo halls. Many players smoked and did not appreciate Parliament prohibiting them from smoking during this entertaining time. The second threat to Bingo in the United Kingdom is online Bingo sites, which may be based in the UK, but which also may be based anywhere around the world. Nonetheless, this game is just as popular and addictive as ever for many individuals. The first UK based Online Bingo sites were launched in 2003 and were frequented primarily by female players. Chat room features were offered to these types of sites in 2004.