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The Changing View of Bingo

More than ten years ago, the New York Times ran an article about the shrinking popularity of Bingo. What an incredible difference ten years make.

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The piece, a very interesting look at those who still loved the game, talks about the challenges and subcultures surrounding the American bingo industry at the time.

The difference today is staggering. Gone are the bingo halls of the past, with their snack bars and their daily regulars. Replaced by mobile phones and the living room sofa.

But far from being irrelevant today, the New York Times article looks at the challenges the game was facing. And, in hindsight, we can see where things were going.

Bingo Online

These days, it’s better to play bingo online. You’ve always got your phone on you, and you can find deals such as at Heart Bingo online. Not being glued to the same place every day is more convenient, just by allowing for a wider degree of choice.

And while online gambling was certainly a thing ten years ago, it has greatly evolved thanks to a couple of things: getting rid of the old Flash model of gaming, and the increased prevalence of mobile phones.

That has changed the age demographic of Bingo. Instead of being primarily a pastime for pensioners, today’s Bingo lover is in their 30s or 40s. They probably have a quick game between other things, rather than planning evenings or even entire days around the pastime.

The New York Times article paints an entirely different picture. Cynthia Klivan is 85 or 86 today, if she’s still alive. At the time of the article’s publication, she’d been enjoying Bingo for 30 years, and it probably hadn’t changed a great deal in that time. That’s why it was dying off.

She had her preferred seat near the snack bar, and her all-important tools – daubers and tape. Cynthia would grab breakfast as part of her daily routine before taking part in the 11.30am game every single day.

She was one of more than 100 taking part in the daytime game, with not quite double that taking part in the evening equivalent. It says a lot about how popular Bingo had been with some people that this was considered declining, although it is nothing compared to the popularity of the average online game.

Taking it Back

It’s true that the Bingo Hall of old is mostly a thing of the past. In the specific case of the Brooklyn bingo hall mentioned in the article, it reads as permanently shut on Google and a bit of searching shows it was at the centre of an illegal gambling ring controversy. Not quite the smoke-filled room full of grey hair you might imagine when thinking of Bingo.

But there’s no denying that technology has changed the way we play. Those 30 or 40-year-old women who today make up most of bingo’s userbase would never have been seen dead in somewhere like Nostrand Bingo Hall. It is the perfect example of an industry transformed by technology. It has a new method of delivery, a fresh coat of paint. And it is thriving.

 

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.

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