In the United Kingdom, bingo is a huge part of their culture. In fact, bingo is so popular in the UK that there are nearly 700 licensed and operating UK bingo clubs that employ well over 20,000 people. These 700 bingo halls and 20,000 staff members service over 3 million UK bingo players annually. To the English, bingo is among the top leisure time activities. Roughly 8% of the UK population plays bingo. Of which, 1% play bingo in both UK bingo clubs and at UK online bingo sites. The Internet bingo rooms are trying to leverage the popularity of bingo in the UK by advertising on television using catchy television commercials in an effort to convert the masses to playing bingo on the Internet.
UK bingo games are held in casinos, social halls, and stand-alone bingo clubs throughout the United Kingdom. All these bingo games are licensed and regulated the majority of the clubs are open year around, with the exception of Christmas Day. All of the UK bingo clubs network together to hold the National Bingo Game on a nightly basis. In the National Bingo Game, the individual bingo clubs network or link together and hold one big bingo game nationwide. This enormous bingo game pools players, clubs, and prize money together so that players from across the country can have a shot at a huge prize. In fact, the largest bingo win on record traces its roots to the National Bingo Game in the UK, as the lucky winner took down a £950,000 progressive jackpot in 2002 thanks to the National Bingo Game!
Of the 700 UK bingo clubs, three companies own the majority of these bingo halls. Gala Club, Mecca Club, and the Palace Bingo Clubs are amongst the giants in the live UK bingo world. Of the big three, Gala Bingo possesses the largest market share, as 40% of the admissions to UK bingo clubs run through Gala’s gates. Gala Bingo operates 170 of the UK bingo clubs and they offer free memberships. Players must be a member at a Gala Bingo club in order to play there. In addition to operating live bingo games, Gala Bingo is one of the bigger UK online bingo game operators as well. It was a natural evolutionary path for Gala Bingo to take advantage of their large, targeted customer base and provide online bingo games to Internet bingo players.
Mecca Bingo has followed a path similar to that of Gala Bingo. Mecca Bingo is owned by Rank Group, PLC and they operate 103 UK bingo clubs under the Mecca Bingo name. Additionally, Rank Group owns and operates Grosvenor Casinos, who provide bingo games in addition to casino games, slots, and keno. In addition to having a presence in the United Kingdom, Rank Group owns casino properties in both Spain and Belgium. Mecca Bingo Clubs first opened their doors in 1961 and possess a membership base of nearly 1 million members, while employing over 3,700 staff. In 2009, Mecca Bingo Clubs brought in around £233 million in revenue from the operations of their clubs and bingo games.
Rank Interactive is the Internet arm of the Rank Group. In addition to UK online bingo site Mecca bingo.com, Rank Interactive runs a casino site and a sports betting website. Their primary Internet marketplace, however, is UK online bingo, as bingo in the UK is the largest portion of their revenue stream, as well as the largest area where they have active members. Thus, it makes sense to focus on primarily providing Internet bingo to their UK members.
Because of bingo’s immense popularity in the UK, online bingo sites have made the UK population their primary target. Television commercials run virtually non-stop on UK television during popular shows such as the Eastenders, where UK online bingo site after bingo site markets their Internet brand in hopes of coaxing the UK television viewers in to try their Internet bingo site out.
UK online bingo sites such as Costa Bingo, Foxy Bingo, Tombola Bingo, and Posh Bingo regularly run TV ads targeted towards making Internet players out of those who are already playing live bingo in the UK clubs. Many of these Internet bingo sites offer special promotions designed to make playing bingo at their UK online bingo sites too good to pass up.
In the UK, live bingo is amongst the most popular social and leisure activities. UK online bingo sites are attempting to penetrate this rich marketplace and the live UK bingo clubs are evolving so that they offer Internet bingo in addition to live bingo games. With almost one-tenth the population playing bingo on a hobby level basis, it makes complete sense for UK online bingo sites to attempt to convert these live bingo players into Internet bingo players as well.