Bingo is one of those activities that seems like it has always been around. It was actually brought to the UK at the start of the 1960s and very quickly established itself among the nation’s favourite games.
During that initial boom in bingo, halls dedicated to it were built in towns and cities across the country – and Yorkshire cities like Leeds were no exception to that. The popularity of bingo waned during the 1980s though, and the number of halls fell, as many closed due to declining attendances.
However, the game has certainly bounced back from those lows in the new century. Now bingo is big business in Yorkshire and the rest of the country once more, albeit with differences compared to the first time.
The Rise of Online Bingo
The biggest change between the second coming of bingo and the first one is that nowadays most of its fans play the game online. The most successful online bingo sites like 888 Ladies Bingo have hundreds of thousands of people from across the UK signing up to play at them due to the convenience they bring.
The bingo that they are taking part in is not really all that different from what women in the 1960s and 1970s were playing in bingo halls. 75 ball and 90 ball are still the dominant versions, just as they were in those bingo halls, but online sites also shake things up a bit by creating variants on the basic format.
Its successful shift into the digital realm has allowed bingo to escape the old-fashioned image that undermined it during its 1980s and 1990s slump. However, it has also been important to its revival for other reasons.
The Problems with Bingo Halls
The traditional bingo hall of the sort that dotted town centres all over Yorkshire for decades came to be seen by younger generations as out of date. The fact that it was so popular with their grandmothers did not help it appeal to young people.
These halls were smoke-filled environs in the old days too. The ban on smoking in public places was a contributory factor in their decline, because older people who had been regulars could not make the adjustment.
For health-conscious youngsters who were raised in a digital world, entertainment is something to be enjoyed online to an ever greater extent. The leisure activities from the past that have bridged the gap between the old world and the new one is those that can be experienced online.
Bingo works very well as an online game and that has helped it to be discovered by the internet generation.
Yorkshire Bingo Halls
Although the predominant audience for bingo is now an online one, bingo halls have not completely disappeared. There are still plenty to be found in Yorkshire alone.
- Mecca Leeds Mayfair
Mecca is one of the largest remaining chains of bingo halls left in the UK. It has a number of Yorkshire branches, most of them in Leeds, but Leeds Mayfair is the pick of the bunch.
It can hold 800 bingo players at a time, which lends it a particularly lively and fun atmosphere. Its location on New York Street, right in the heart of Leeds, makes it very easy to get to.
Factor in the enormous jackpots offered by Mecca – the current record being £1 million – and it is easy to see why people love playing at this hall.
- Mecca Crossgates
This second venue is situated roughly four and a half miles outside of the centre of Leeds. It is one of the easiest bingo halls for people in other parts of Yorkshire to visit thanks to its strong transport links.
Once inside, you will find it even bigger than its city centre counterpart, with 1,100 seats available. It also offers both real-world and online bingo games, with 60-plus terminals for the latter placed throughout.
- Buzz Bingo Sheffield Parkway
Leeds is not the only part of Yorkshire to boast brilliant bingo halls. Buzz Bingo is another chain of venues that has emerged in recent years thanks to the renewed popularity of the game.
This hall on Cricket Inn Road, in Sheffield, is open seven days a week and until 1am in the morning at the weekend. It features electronic slots games and various forms of live entertainment shows alongside the bingo.
Bingo Party Nights
That combination of bingo with other types of entertainment is something that can be enjoyed at many Yorkshire venues. One example is the Bongo’s Bingo nights hosted at places like the 02 Academy in Leeds.
These kinds of bingo party nights feature bingo games interspersed with wild dance-offs to pop music from the 1990s, with drinks and guest appearances by celebrities from that era. Bingo-themed party nights like this are very big in Yorkshire and other parts of the UK in 2022.
They are a further factor in the ever-rising popularity of bingo among twentysomethings. Indeed, many young people now prefer online bingo and themed nights like Bongo’s Bingo to more standard nights out in pubs and clubs.
The number of people playing online bingo in Yorkshire is proof that the city still has a real love for this game. Then there is the level of demand for party nights centred on it and the thriving bingo halls up and down the county where every night is a ‘full house.’