As we all know, the July 2007 smoking ban hit live bingo very hard indeed. The repercussions of the blanket ban on smoking inside any public building have deeply affected the industry, and with the combination of double taxation added on top, there has been little for live bingo to smile about in the last couple of years.
However, Gala bingo has come up with a revolutionary way to get more players back in the hall to play live uk bingo. The introduction of a hi-tech smoking shelter outside the Fenton Gala hall in Staffordshire has proved to be a real bingo bonus for many regular players, and due to its success looks to be the first of many.
So what's all the fuss about?
This new smoking shelter is a unique bingo site and is not only protection from the elements for smokers, but is fully equipped with electronic bingo gaming machines.
These machines are all coin operated and players can win anywhere between £10 and £1000 in a game. The heated shelter has wooden decking throughout and 32 kiosks where players can choose between games for 50p and games for £1.
Offering players the choice
These shelters could offer the industry a helping hand if this technology is rolled out across the brand's many bingo halls in the UK.
Since the shelter was opened, assistant manager Robert Jones has attracted a lot of media attention and has commented to the local newspaper, The Sentinel: "When you look at some bingo clubs and see people smoking outside, it does look quite unsociable. But with this smoking shelter it’s more social, they can have a drink, chat with their friends, and they can carry on playing".