Bingo hall requires investment lifeline

Byron Bingo
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A struggling bingo hall in Hucknall, Nottinghamshire is facing the threat of closure if an investor cannot be found within the next month.

The owner of Byron Bingo, Tharmalingam Sritharan, fears that the business he has proudly run for 14 years may face closure this month unless a suitable investor can be found to help turn the site’s fortunes around. The building, which features a cinema space as well as a bingo hall, is to be put up for auction at the end of July after dwindling player numbers and a series of break ins have made the venture financially untenable in its present state.

He has said that he would prefer for a new owner to invest in the bingo and cinema so as to preserve its legacy, but the firm behind the auction lot, John Pye Properties, intends to list the location as a “blank canvas” seemingly with retail or residential designs in mind.

“I did everything to keep it going but nothing seemed to happen,” Sritharan told press.“It is hard because I got broken into and they destroyed everything and took every penny from the machines. Bingo is not running like it did 10 years ago because of the smoking ban, so we were already struggling and on top of that [the robbery] happened.

“My customers are really upset. They love this place – that is why I have tried to keep it going. I worry about them, they are all like friends and family to me.”

The site, situated in a place of prominence upon Hucknall high street, was the target of two burglaries within a year costing the business tens of thousands in damage.
The break ins focused on Byron’s amusements machines, which were heavily damaged as thieves cleared out the cashboxes. To add insult to injury the business’ insurance company refused to pay out for the events and in total Sritharan believes he lost £60,000 and half his income.

Recent industry trends have shown that with the right framing and promotion there is still consumer appetite for high street bingo in the UK, as highlighted by recent expansions into more casual games from Mecca and the Buzz rebrand from Gala Leisure.

“It would be really sad [if it became residential], I have always loved the bingo. Since I put it up for auction, everyone has been talking about it, so hopefully something might happen.”

Richard Reed, head of property for the auctioneers, described the location as unique and did offer at least small hope that it may yet be repurposed for leisure use.

“Its established high street location means that it retains great potential as an entertainment venue, especially if it is given a cosmetic makeover,” he said.

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