Mobile Menu

The Big Bingo Comeback in England

When the smoking ban came into effect in 2007, Bingo in the UK all but died. Without gangs of old ladies being able to smoke while blotting off their numbers, they decided they’d rather stay at home. And if that had have been that, the game would have probably all but disappeared.


The old style bingo halls were knocked down or converted, and staff were told to start finding other work. It was a game that look condemned to holiday parks and plastic play-at-home board games.

The internet was nothing new in 2007 – people had 10 years to get used to the idea. But over the years that followed, something changed, and today Bingo is one of the most popular online gambling games around.

The Fate of Bingo

If you check online today, you’ll see countless popular bingo sites. Things like this Heart Bingo review show that the face of bingo has completely changed.

The Smoking Ban claimed a lot of businesses – at least if you listen to the gossip. There’s many a pub landlord who will tell you the woes that followed after regulars were asked to step outside for a drag.

It seems unlikely it was the only reason these businesses declined. In all likelihood, it’s just that the businesses hadn’t managed to adapt to modern tastes. People didn’t want to sit in rooms full of smoke, smelling like tobacco, cheap booze and hormones.

Those that had kept bingo alive since the 1960s were starting to die off, and the owners hadn’t done anything to try and bring in fresh blood. The result was a crisis for the industry.

Meanwhile, something else very big happened in 2007: the announcement of the iPhone. And with that announcement, the world changed. Everything in the world would now fit inside our pocket.

And while there’s a debate to be had about how good that has been for our society, one thing is for certain: it offered a modern way to gamble for those not willing to do it the old-fashioned way.

Bringing in the Fresh Blood

2007 wasn’t that long ago, and yet it seems like a completely different era in many ways. The conveniences that we take for granted today – free one day delivery, streaming, online games – were only in their infancy, if they existed at all. They certainly weren’t as easily accessible as they are today.


That goes doubly so for gambling. There’d always been a gambling side to the internet, as far back as there was an internet, but having access to high quality apps on a device you can pull out of your pocket was a game changer.

Paired with advertising on the television (mostly around soap operas), people started to remember how much fun bingo could be, and they came back in their droves.

Today the industry is worth more than £1 billion every single year, and it’s only going up. Coronavirus has pushed even more people to try out gambling on their phones, and many of them have found they enjoy it.

Does that mean Bingo has a bright future? It’s hard to say. But it’s obvious it’s better than where it was 15 years ago. The internet saved bingo.


Article By

blank Mat Growcott has been a long-time member of the gaming press. He's written two books and a web series, and doesn't have nearly enough time to play the games he writes about.

Follow on:
Twitter: @matgrowcott