Is the end of high-street bingo in Sittingbourne a sign of the times?

The town centre of Sittingbourne was rocked with the news of Mecca Bingo’s decision to close its doors in August, bringing an end to high-street bingo in this Kentish town. The operator decided against renewing its lease terms with the landlord, leaving the landmark art deco property disappointingly vacant. The Sittingbourne bingo hall, which was the old home of Odeon Cinema, was shared with New Century Cinema, although the independent cinema firm remains the sole tenant as of now. Given that it was a clear commercial decision to close Sittingbourne’s bingo hall, this demonstrates the growing power of the online bingo industry. Online bingo rooms have become a more convenient alternative, whilst retaining the social element with vibrant chat rooms and around-the-clock scheduling of games. Combine that with exclusive bonuses for first-time customers and it’s easy to see why online operators have become a source of appeal.

Sittingbourne’s Mecca Bingo hall was opened in 1973, offering a range of conventional local, link and national bingo games, alongside slot machines and live entertainment. The issue with traditional bingo halls is that online bingo rooms can offer all of this and more to players from the comfort of their armchairs. These online rooms are built to be fully responsive so that they can be enjoyed on any smartphone or tablet device, as well as on desktop and laptop computers.

One of the most notable wins at this bingo hall came in 2002, when a grandad living on the Isle of Sheppey scooped over £110,000 from a national game. However, to put that into context, online bingo rooms across the UK now routinely offer monthly games with £100,000 jackpots. Often, they offer tickets as cheap as 50p too, ensuring a very low barrier to entry for players.

Other bingo halls have closed their doors across Kent

In Chatham town centre, Buzz Bingo was forced to cease operations in 2021, with the premises now ring-fenced for a new residential housing development. Elsewhere, Ashford Borough Council has also probed the idea of redeveloping the town’s own closed bingo hall. Even the seaside resort of Margate saw the Beacon Bingo hall shut up shop in 2019.

The reality appears to be that convenience and creativity is winning out against tradition in Britain’s bingo industry. Even Mecca Bingo has its own online rooms that are home to hundreds of players daily. As with so many other legacy industries, it’s very much a case of keeping up consumer trends and demands.

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