With Rank stating that the 18 to 24-age group is its fastest growing demographic of players, it’s no surprise that companies outside the industry have borrowed the bingo concept to bolster the entertainment value of their events.
“People’s attention span is minimal now. They want events that are different and experiential,” explained Joshua Burke, co-founder of Bongo’s Bingo, a company that utilises the traditional pastime in night clubs across the UK.
Indeed, Burke estimates his firm will make £6m-£7m in revenues this year as the company launches its rowdy bingo-themed nights in Cardiff and Paris, as well as on tour in Australia and Dubai.
However, the Bongo’s Bingo product isn’t so much a rebranding of the traditional game, it’s more a re-thinking of the traditional night out.
Recent statistics show a five percent fall in the number of nightclubs since 2012, and the Office for National Statistics has found that younger adults are less interested in drinking alcohol in 2016 only 46 percent of 16- to 24-year-olds had drunk alcohol in the week before being surveyed, compared with 64 percent of 45- to 64-year-olds.
“There is no point just going to a bar to catch up with friends any more. With social media, you are already all caught up,” said Freddie Sorensen, one of the founders of a similar bingo club night, Rebel Bingo, which has held events as far as New York, Ibiza and Las Vegas.
“People want a story to hang their nightoff, so we tried various things and somewhere along the line it was the bingo that took off.”
These millennial markets have caught the eye of Mecca-owner Rank, which has teamed up with Sorensen for a joint project, the Social Bingo Academy, aiming to further the game’s fast-increasing younger playerbase.
Rank holds its own “nightclub bingo” events, “Bonkers Bingo”, which “are not key drivers of profit but are successful in broadening the appeal of retail bingo”.
Rank’s head of customer events Barry Lyons said Mecca started hosting them “based on research that told us that the younger audience values experiences and occasions. They want a night out based on entertainment”.
Indeed, while at first some on the traditional side of the industry were wary of bingo’s borrowed usage, the two sides have now partnered together to promote the game’s global appeal. And it’s happening very quickly.
“People are always looking for something new, but in terms of fads, this is the fastest-moving market I have seen,” commented, Peter Martin, vice-chair of licensed premises data provider CGA.