Miles Baron discusses Covid, the gambling review and changes to the way bingo operates, but he has a special new year’s wish for his association members, their teams and their all-important customers. “They need a break,” he says. “They have survived so well up to now and I would love to see them rewarded for all the stress, pressure and mental hardship they have endured with a prosperous 2022.” And so say all of us.
MILES BARON CHIEF EXECUTIVE THE BINGO ASSOCIATION
Coinslot: A year that opened in lockdown, staggered through to reopening, via a supply chain crisis and ending with Omicron: how will you look back on 2021?
Miles Baron: I will look back on it as year of sadness where some people lost friends and family and some their businesses and their livelihoods.
But I shall also remember the resilience and togetherness of the industry. Bingo clubs and premises taking time to support their communities and customers by staying in regular contact and helping them fight social isolation. It was a time where Licensed Bingo operators all wanted to reach out and help each other, their employees and their customers.
Coinslot: We’ve had five months since re-opening, what were your highlights of the year?
Miles Baron: May 17th was the highlight – just being able to trade!
National Bingo Day in June gave us an enormous uplift when both retail and digital came together to promote the game of Bingo and raise money for the Bingo Association charity.
Coinslot: 2021 has been a major challenge to the way our businesses operate. How have your members risen to this challenge and what new developments are they introducing to rebuild and strengthen your operation?
Miles Baron: Many operators have used the lockdown period to review their operating model and in particular their cost base. Increased use of technology such as the use of various APPS as part of customer service will be good examples, whilst some operators will look to reduce their physical footprint to meet current business needs.
Coinslot: What are you looking or hoping for in 2022 and what’s on your New Year’s wish list?
Miles Baron: Bingo Association would like to see a return to healthy Pre-Covid attendances. In the short to midterm we can get along with higher spends and reduced costs, however, this business traditionally thrives on low stakes and high volumes.
It would be nice to see the 2005 Act Review out of the way. We hope for some wins to give us a chance to innovate and grow. Failing that we hope to avoid any changes that effect bingo negatively.
We look forward to a constructive relationship with the regulator and the new regime in Victoria Square.
But most of all our members, their teams and their customers need a break. They have survived so well up to now and I would love to see them rewarded for all the stress, pressure and mental hardship they have endured with a prosperous 2022.
However I have a feeling recovery is going to take some time and we might have to wait just a little bit longer.