Bingo Connect - January 2024 - Issue 9

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The Magazine for the Bingo Industry

January 2024 Issue 9 - £6

Coronet: A tale of succession


What’s it like being the MD of Mecca?

r up vouche bs! for gra ur Enter oarch wordse

Variety: Can we reach £2 million? How ‘flexible’ is your company?







Bingo s d r a C h Scratc s n e p O Break l i a M t c Dire


s r e b b a D s t e k c i Raffle T




Foreword Miles Baron, Chief Executive, The Bingo Association


elcome to 2024! 2023 was a bruising year for licensed bingo clubs that saw 26 Bingo Clubs close and just one open, leaving a net 25 shutting their doors. Although this trend appears to be slowing, latest BA research available through the website, shows cost of living pressures are still hurting customers badly. A relatively buoyant spring and summer gave way to a challenging late October and November, with volumes struggling to match the previous year. Meanwhile cost pressures continue to escalate. The increase in the minimum wage, energy prices, and in Scotland lack of parity with business rates in England is all adding to the challenges of doing businesses in 2024. In response to these threats, The Bingo Association will be lobbying hard for the government to abolish Bingo Duty, currently set at 10%. Unlike the last time BA successfully campaigned on this, the window of opportunity is small, and whilst the likelihood of any change may seem unlikely, the political environment might just suit a sharp, short, targeted campaign. And how we need some respite! Similarly, following the Scottish Government’s financial statement on December 19th the BA will be getting behind the wider Scottish Hospitality Group to demand parity of support with England on levels of business rates relief. The Gambling Act 2005 review rumbles on in to the new year, with no firm news expected until late January 2024 at the earliest. So it is hard to predict any benefits that might accrue, for example from the review of 80/20 gaming machines allocations. Similarly, there is likely to be no news from the outcome

of recent consultations on changes to the LCCP either. Bingo is especially keen to hear the outcome with regard to the proposed amendment to consumer choice and marketing. In February 2024, expect the first official release of the GC’S new Gambling Survey of Great Britain. This survey, the first ever specific research into problem gambling in GB, is expected to show slightly higher rates of problem gambling than previously thought. This is more a function of the way the survey is conducted, and may not impact results relating to licensed bingo, however we know all too well that bad press for the gambling industry affects us all! In November 2023 The Bingo Association launched a new, much improved website and I would encourage you all to visit it when you can. Any feedback would be much appreciated, we know there are some tweaks still to be made. However, it is a tool designed to help the bingo community and I hope you find it helpful. The festive ‘party season’ is when Licensed Bingo operators do what they do best, giving their customers the best possible time by keeping communities and families together, ‘laughing all the way’. I hope we can showcase some of these club Christmas parties in the next edition of Bingo Connect! Happy New Year and best wishes to you all.

Miles Baron Chief Executive

January 2024 /


Contents January 2024

Welcome to Bingo Connect, the magazine for the bingo industry in the UK, and the official magazine of The Bingo Association.



Foreword 3

Miles Baron, Chief Executive, The Bingo Association

In profile

Carpenter and the 28 Laurie generations of Coronet Bingo Crump on what it’s like 30 Andy to be the MD of Mecca Bingo

/ January 2024

News round up



Club 3000 Bingo Peterlee expands with a new bar

Show on track to 14 EAG2024: hit capacity

V.A.R technology 10 Bringing to bingo

together to combat 20 Working banknote counterfeiting

roundup from the BA 16 ARoadshow

provides highlights from the 32 EY Autumn Statement

Group restructures and 22 NRM rebrands as Boomerang Digital

Walton explains changes 34 Taylor to the statutory framework for flexible working requests


38 Published in hard copy and digital format (available on our website at, Bingo Connect covers all things bingo, from news of regulatory development and new products, to industry profiles and charity support. Bingo is at the heart of the community and Bingo Connect is at the heart of the bingo industry.


Publisher The Bingo Association™

Editorial Editor Miles Baron Managing Editor Paul Swindon


Production and Advertising Sales Steve Pearce Tel: +44 (0) 117 957 5400

The Editorial Policy The views and opinions expressed in Bingo Connect remain principally the views of the contributors and do not necessarily reflect those of the editor or publishers. The publishers wish to avoid inaccuracies and whilst every precaution has been taken to ensure that information contained in this publication is accurate, no liability is accepted by the editor or publishers for errors or omissions however caused. Unless otherwise stated, articles appearing in this publication remain the copyright of the publishers and may not be reproduced in any form without the publisher’s written consent.

ISSN 2752-6372


January 2024 /


News round up

Unlocking success

Boost bingo club admissions with Shipley Creative’s Breakopen Direct Mail pieces In the ever-evolving landscape of entertainment and leisure, bingo remains a timeless and beloved pastime that brings communities together. Shipley Creative, a pioneer in innovative marketing solutions, introduces a game-changing strategy tailored for the bingo industry: Breakopen Direct Mail pieces. Imagine the excitement, the anticipation, and the thrill of revealing instant wins— all delivered straight to your potential players’ mailboxes. The power of Breakopen Direct Mail Direct mail marketing has long been a reliable method for reaching target audiences, and Shipley Creative takes it to the next level with Breakopen Direct Mail pieces. These interactive and engaging mailers bring an element of surprise and instant gratification, tapping into the thrill that makes bingo so irresistible. Shipley Creative understands that in the world of bingo, the promise of winning is the heartbeat of the game. Introducing our ‘Everyone’s a Winner’ promotion—designed to not only entice but guarantee a positive experience for every participant. The Breakopen Direct Mail pieces conceal exciting prizes and incentives, making every member of your audience feel like a winner, right from the start. We recognise the importance of / January 2024

reaching the right audience with the right message. Shipley Creative employs advanced segmentation techniques to analyse your customer database and tailor your campaign accordingly. By understanding your players’ preferences, habits, and demographics, we ensure that your Breakopen Direct Mail pieces resonate with each individual, maximising the impact of your promotion. How Shipley Creative elevates your bingo club admissions Unparalleled engagement: The Breakopen Direct Mail pieces from Shipley Creative guarantee a level of engagement that traditional methods simply can’t match. The tactile and interactive nature of these mailers captures attention, driving excitement and curiosity among customers. Increased footfall: The ‘Everyone’s a Winner’ promotion acts as a powerful incentive, drawing participants to your bingo club to claim their prizes. This surge in foot traffic not only boosts admissions but also

creates a vibrant and lively atmosphere, enhancing the overall experience for both new and existing players. Data-driven success: Our expertise in segmentation ensures that your campaign is not just broad but finely tuned to the preferences of your audience. By delivering personalised content, we enhance the relevance of your promotion, increasing the likelihood of conversion. Shipley Creative is not just a marketing solution; we are your strategic partner in the journey towards boosting bingo club admissions. Our Breakopen Direct Mail pieces, coupled with the ‘Everyone’s a Winner’ promotion, are the keys to unlocking a new era of engagement and excitement within your community. The Shipley Creative team

➜ will be at EAG on the Bingo

Hub and happy to talk about promotional activity – but if you are not attending the show give them a call or pay them a visit:

News round up

Make way! ‘Last call’ – Club 3000 Bingo Peterlee expands with a new bar lounge Club 3000 Bingo in Peterlee have launched their new Bar Lounge, The Last Call. Following a £500,000 investment in the Yoden Way venue, the expanded club now offers players a new in-club destination and meeting place.


he area, now The Last Call, was not originally part of the club, having been a shop that had been vacant for over ten years. The £500,000 investment by Club 3000 not only expanded the premises and facilities available to players but also gave a new use to vacant commercial space, knocking through from the existing club, to create a state-of-the-art lounge and new bingo environment for customers. Amie Rahman, manager at Club

3000 Peterlee said: “We are proud to offer our customers another way of playing bingo, we have lots of events planned over the coming months – live entertainment, karaoke, quiz nights as well as the opportunity to win big prizes. Every Friday, Saturday and Sunday evening we pay 3 x £1000 houses, and once the bingo has finished there is more entertainment on hand”. The club relaunched at the end of 2023, officially opening the new bar, enhancing the customer experience.

The Last Call offers an extensive range of drinks including a new cocktail menu and freshly ground coffee, with ‘booths’ bookable for special occasions and offers a relaxing luxurious environment for those who like to talk while playing bingo. For sport loving customers Sky Sports is also shown throughout the day.


January 2024 /


News round up


Club 3000 Bingo Greenock celebrates its 25th anniversary!


lub 3000 Bingo in Greenock celebrated a milestone birthday in November, marking 25 years since opening its doors back in 1998. To mark the occasion a range of special games were played, with big jackpot prizes up for grabs as the team threw the biggest party in town. To ensure things went with a swing there was a live performance from Dave Finnigan’s Commitments, helping to making it a memorable night for everyone there. The club is no stranger to big wins, having been named Scotland’s luckiest town with the highest jackpot winnings in a recent survey from the National Bingo Game. The club has also given out over £2 million in prize money over the last 12 months alone. Gerry Chisholm the local manager who returned to the club where he started his career was excited to celebrate with customers. He said: “It is such a privilege to be managing this club at such a special time, celebrating an amazing 25 years of being open. We

were delighted to be able to share our excitement with all our wonderful bingo customers, with not only entertainment and special promotions, but also a chance to win big money, in the luckiest club in Scotland.”


The No.1 association for bingo

The association for all things bingo - working with senior management and operators for more than two decades - successfully promoting and developing the interests of all bingo operators. For industry news, comment and information on the benefits of membership, visit Call 01582 860921 or email

Shaping policy. Developing business. Driving the industry agenda. / January 2024

News round up


Boogie meets bingo at Buzz! Bringing the fun to bingo, Buzz Bingo customers can expect to sing, dance, and dab the night away at its Boogie Bingo event nights.


hink traditional bingo with a musical twist! Each event has a different theme, from Christmas in July to Disco vs Motown, dressing up to the theme is optional but definitely encouraged! Having successfully delivered Boogie Bingo events across the country in 2023, and with many more planned for 2024, there’s no stopping Buzz on its mission to drive innovation and fun in the bingo community. Malcolm Caine, Bingo Product Manager - Retail said: ‘’It’s wonderful to see the uptake on these events, this is what it’s all about! Customers enjoying bingo, and taking home cash prizes. “The best thing about Boogie Bingo is that it’s just full of surprises! “Every event has a different theme to keep customers coming back for more, our colleagues are all in on the fun too, you’ll find them dressed up in line with the themes.’’

“Long Live The Bingo Industry” 35 years long service for Ade Stain from Buzz Bingo Ade Stain now aged 52 has spent the best part of 35 years working in the bingo Industry. His career started back in 1988 when he joined Essoldo Entertainment Bingo Hall in Darlaston straight from school, tasked with cleaning fruit machines and emptying cigarette ash from the payout trays to fill his time. 35 years later Ade has stuck around and found a firm foot in the industry. Following the closure of Essoldo Entertainment in 1993 he moved to Rosum Bingo Hall in Leamore as a bingo caller. After Gala brought Rosum out in 1999 Ade was promoted to Assistant Manager at Ashmore Park in Wednesfield. He then moved to Buzz Bingo Walsall in 2019 as a Deputy Manager and following the Covid-19 pandemic he was promoted to General Manager of the club in 2021. Ade has worked in a number of other Buzz clubs during

his time with the company ➜ Ade Stain with Mike including Kingsbury Rd, Stockland Ellis, Regional Manager Green, Stafford, Coventry Savoy and Hanley. Ade said: ‘’It’s great to reach an achievement like this, the years just fly by when you enjoy delivering the best experience for your customers. Bingo is my life, and I couldn’t see myself anywhere else as I’ve met some of the greatest people I could ever wish to meet including colleagues and our lovely customers. “Long live the bingo industry!’’ January 2024 /


News round up

Bringing V.A.R technology to bingo Despite a difficult time for V.A.R. (Video Assistant Referee), Mecca Bingo enlisted the help of renowned former referee, Mike Dean, to launch B.A.R (Bingo Assistant Referee) - a state-of-the-art technology system to keep bingo players on track.


ith exactly 2,000 yellow cards and a record breaking 214 red cards issued in his Premier League career, the card-happy ref is helping Mecca Bingo trial B.A.R - a state-of-the-art, cutting edge technology system designed to keep bingo players on track and verify jackpot claims. Starting in the home of Premier League newcomers, Sheffield United, the Wirral-based icon has swapped V.A.R for B.A.R to train staff at Mecca Bingo on the Premier League standards. Mecca Bingo’s B.A.R technology will capture every moment in high-definition, allowing Mike’s trained Mecca officials to track every call and every dab to precisely identify any errors. Yellow cards will be issued to customers who make false claims. Get a red and he’ll suggest customers move to their own table to focus. Captured footage shows Mike Dean training Mecca staff on player management, and how to use B.A.R to ensure that

all bingo claims are verified and prizes are fairly awarded. And of course, the whipped cream used for Mecca’s delicious desserts now doubles as vanishing spray - used by Mike to keep any over excited players at bay whilst results are being checked. Mike Dean, former Premier League referee, said; “It’s been tremendous fun bringing a touch of top-quality refereeing to Mecca Bingo. Like football, bingo is a beautiful game full of passion and excitement. In truth, I had never expected to swap footballs for bingo balls, but the launch of B.A.R made it an easy decision - a little bit extra officiating never hurt anyone. We’ll be double checking the next jackpot claim!” Mike Sime, Head of Bingo at Mecca Bingo, commented: “It’s perhaps not been the best of weeks for V.A.R – but we remain undeterred. We’re really excited to be trialling the introduction of this impeccable technology into bingo. And we’re absolutely delighted that one of the greatest Premier League referees, Mike Dean, has switched play to Mecca. Good process.”

Promote your products and services from as little as £165 per issue Email / January 2024

Presenting bingo in a whole new light ECM Systems are exhibiting at


Entertainment, Attractions & Gaming International Expo

16 - 18 January 2024 Stand F76, ExCeL, London We look forward to showing you what Nucleus and Fusion can do

News round up


Keeping the lid on Fatt Butcher’s love of bingo Mecca Bingo’s callers met their vocal match when TV’s The Voice came to Mecca Acocks Green to film for the show’s twelfth series, which launched on ITV in November.


ans of the show may recognise the Stockfield Road club as the setting for drag queen supreme, Fatt Butcher’s background story. Filming took place at the Birmingham bingo club in November 2022 and staff and astonished customers had been keeping the secret till the show aired. Bingo lover and chanteuse Fatt, aka Adam Carver from Birmingham, was joined by friends for the special session, and while Fatt is used to being in charge of the microphone, this time the numbers were called by Toni Cooper, assistant manager of Mecca Acocks Green. The series’ winner, which was yet to be announced at the time of writing, will win a recording contract

with Universal Records as well as a massive £50,000 cash prize and a luxury holiday. Toni Cooper, Mecca Bingo, commented, “It was great fun. The filming had been arranged but the crew hadn’t shared any details of the act they were recording, so it was a big surprise when Fatt arrived with their entourage, including a blue alien! “It was hard to keep our eyes down for the bingo with Fatt and their friends in club. But at Mecca Bingo we’re used to giving away big money and we’re hoping our customers’ recent luck rubs off on Fatt – we’re backing them all the way to the final!”


Got a feel good story, opening or refurbishing a club, celebrating a milestone or something different? Contact us at / January 2024

Anne-Marie, Olly Murs, Sir Tom Jones and have once again taken up their positions in the most iconic chairs on TV. They have assumed their roles as the superstar coaches in search for the next singing sensation, while presenter Emma Willis presides over all the action. The show is available on catch up and selected streaming services.

News round up

Exciting times ahead for Harlow Harlow Printing readily known for specialising in providing design, print and fulfilment services to the healthcare sector, has now established itself in the Bingo and Gaming industry since the acquisition of Edward Thompson Printers at the beginning of 2022. Having successfully opened the Harlow Bingo and Gaming Division Bingo Connect speaks to Sales Director Vince Hume to see how things are going and what their plans are for the future… How have you found the last 18 months since moving into the Industry? Very exciting, but where have those 18 months gone? Firstly, I would like to say what an amazing industry we now find ourselves in, having also been very fortunate to inherit fantastic customers from our predecessors Edward Thompson. Early stages were very much a learning curve for all of us at Harlow, particularly with the effects of the pandemic but the industry has amazed me with its resilience! We were able to retain some wonderful staff from Edward Thompson which I feel was critical to us moving forward. This included Caroline Porterfield who leads our Gaming division and Sales Executive Gary Wright whose vast experience and knowledge in the industry has amazed us all! We are so pleased to have their specialist knowledge which they have spent years acquiring. To enhance this, we have developed a complete Bingo and Gaming Division where we have our own inhouse mathematical algorithms department which Caroline leads internally. The team work closely with our External Sales team who cover the whole of the UK! We certainly will not be standing still and with several innovative plans and ideas we have a real excitement within Harlow

about how we can have a real positive impact on the industry. What products can you produce? We have a great range of products which can all be produced as bespoke to suit our customer’s requirements, having our own inhouse maths department means we can create any new ‘fun’ game our clients ask for. • Bingo Tickets: We can produce all features and explain the benefits. We are only limited to your imagination! • Scratch Cards: We have all the winning payouts that fit your requirements supplying some of the biggest customers in the UK. • Break Opens: Incredibly exciting range of products. We can design and advise on any requirements our customer may have. • Dabbers: Being one of the leading suppliers in the UK we have a huge

range and have the capability to make these bespoke for customers. Don’t forget though, we provide a wide range of print services and cover all aspects of a products journey, through design, print finishing, direct mail and distribution. We can even provide fulfilment requirements if needed! We really are a one-stop-shop when it comes to print. Hopes for EAG 2024? EAG2023 was great for us! Meeting current and potential new customers and striking up some real positive and engaging conversations…..more of the same please! We felt there was a real buzz around the place and could not wait to come back and have what will be our first stand at this exhibition. The future is certainly bright for Harlow in the Bingo and Gaming industry! Myself and Sales Executives Gary (The Guru) Wright and Andrew Pettit will all be on hand to chat. So please come and see us on the Bingo Hub.

➜ January 2024 /



Article: EAG Expo

It’s show time: EAG show on track to hit capacity Organisers of the EAG Expo at ExCeL London on 16-18 January 2024 confirmed just before the holidays that the show floor at the premier business, learning and networking event for the UK amusements and low-stake gaming sectors was 93% full and on-course to reach capacity.


he roll-call of 2024 exhibitors features leading brands including Astrosystems, Bandai Namco Amusement Europe, Blueprint Operations, Crown Leisure, ECM Systems/Playtech, Electrocoin, E-Service (Europe), Inspired Entertainment, Instance Automatics, Novomatic Gaming, NRM, NSM Music, Playsafe Systems, PMS International Group, Reflex Gaming, SB Machines, Sega Amusements International, TouchTunes UK, UDC, Wexel Gaming and Whitehouse Leisure International - confirming EAG’s status as the event which operators look to for inspiration and the place to source the very latest product innovations across amusements, bingo and low-stake gaming. Speaking prior to Christmas EAG Chairman Martin Burlin described EAG as being in ‘rude health’ and ready to answer the needs of both operators and the extended supply chain. He stated: “The 4,000+ operators expected at EAG will have the opportunity to access the very latest product launches and innovations from / January 2024

over 120 leading brands covering every product sector, meet with industry colleagues, keep ahead of social responsibility issues at the Bacta Safer Gambling Hub, take advantage of EAG’s easy to access seminar programme and of course be part of Bacta’s 50th celebrations which are being launched at EAG.” He added: “EAG’s message to the industry is ‘The Year Starts Here’ and the scale and quality of what visitors will find at ExCeL in January will equip operators to hit the ground running.” Bingo Hub – sector focus Bingo Connect readers will be able to access leading suppliers to the Bingo sector courtesy of the dedicated Bingo Hub at EAG. The Hub will feature Bingo innovators including Wexel Gaming, NRM, Shipley Creative, Harlow Printing, Cowells Arrow and ECM Systems/Playtech. EAG to ‘Go Gold’ An international audience of VIPs and dignitaries from trade associations representing the amusements industry in Austria, Croatia, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Montenegro, Netherlands, Romania, Serbia, Spain, the United States as well as sister bodies from the UK including The Bingo Association will gather at EAG Expo to join celebrations marking the 50th year of UK trade association Bacta. EAG will ‘go gold’ as the launch-pad for what will be a year-long programme of 50th anniversary events for Bacta. Five strong seminar programme Attending EAG 2024 provides access to a quintet of topical seminars which have been curated to meet the business

Article: EAG Expo


➜ Martin Burlin

needs of operators. Spread over the opening two days of EAG the programme comprises: The new rules of gambling – getting your compliance right (16th January) The Pub and Club Summit (16th January) Embedding Safer Gambling, The High Street Summit (17th January) Cash: Here to stay or gone tomorrow. Can we trust the Government or the Banks? (17th January) Miles Baron part of judging panel for EAG-hosted Bacta Awards Miles Baron, Chief Executive of The Bingo Association will join EAG Chairman Martin Burlin and Brigid Simmonds, current Chairman of the Betting and Gaming Council on the three person panel judging the five category Bacta Annual Awards. The winners will be announced in the Bacta lounge at EAG at 6pm on 16th January. The categories comprise: High Street Hero, which celebrates the outstanding staff who work in Britain’s AGCs, High Street Bingo and inland FEC’s; Seaside Saviour, which is for staff working in coastal arcades, FECs and piers; Supply Chain Champion, for those largely unsung heroes and heroines who play a vital role in helping to deliver fun and entertainment to communities across the country and Green Giants, which recognises individuals or businesses showing a commitment to reducing their carbon footprint and promoting workplace sustainability. The Jimmy Thomas Rising Star Award, in the memory of the late Jimmy Thomas who served the industry in many different capacities not least as Bacta National President, Chairman of the Bacta Charitable Trust and as Chairman of ATE Ltd. The Award aims to find the best and brightest industry members aged under 30-years.

Gambling Commission take a presence at Safer Gambling Hub EAG visitors will have the opportunity to access the very latest developments and initiatives impacting safer gambling courtesy of the Bacta Safer Gambling Hub which will feature nine organisations including the Gambling Commission. Bacta CEO John White said: “EAG provides an opportunity for visitors to absorb the latest thinking and developments across products and across the industry which of course includes safer gambling. It’s also extremely important that as a sector we are able to demonstrate our commitment to safer gambling and having the Hub in a prominent position on the EAG show floor does exactly that. “I know from hosting Kay Roberts, Executive Director of Operations, Gambling Commission who opened the Safer Gambling Hub at EAG Expo, 2023 how valuable it is to be able to bring the safer gambling charities together in one place at EAG. The conversations we have in relation to safer gambling resonate with our regulators to a much greater degree when they take place within such an environment.” It’s never been easier to get to EAG The journey from central London to EAG’s home at ExCeL London has been transformed following the opening of the Elizabeth Line. The new 21st century travel experience means that EAG visitors can make the door-to-door journey from Bond Street to the ExCeL exhibition centre in less than 25 minutes. Offering a choice of 12 trains an hour the Elizabeth Line provides a direct 43 minute connection from Heathrow. Meet at the industry meeting place The 4,000+ operators from sectors including bingo clubs, FECs, AGCs, seaside piers, leisure attractions, bars, clubs, and bowling centres expected to attend the 2024 edition of EAG Expo will be able to access the very latest product launches and innovations from over 120 leading brands, meet with colleagues in the Bingo Hub, keep up with developments impacting social responsibility, celebrate industry excellence at the Bacta Annual Awards, and participate in EAG’s business-centric seminar programme.

➜ Sign up to attend EAG Expo online at: Registration is free.

January 2024 /


News round up

Roadshow 2023 On Thursday 30th of November, The Bingo Association (BA) welcomed industry professionals from across the bingo sector for the much-anticipated Association and Meeron Roadshow 2023.


eld at the Mercure Hotel in central Manchester, this event, a cornerstone of the BA’s commitment to keeping its members informed and engaged, promised insightful discussions, networking opportunities, and expert presentations from guest speakers. Networking and lunch: The foundation of community building Starting at lunch time, to allow for travel, an informal lunch set the perfect tone and provided an opportunity for a endees to network. This was a strategic opportunity for delegates to reconnect with old colleagues, meet new faces, and forge stronger ties within the tight-knit bingo community. The diversity of a endees, ranging from general managers and head office teams to field-based support and industry suppliers, highlighted the inclusive and collaborative spirit of the bingo sector. Industry updates and challenges ahead Following lunch Miles Baron, Chief Executive of The Bingo Association, got the session underway, with an industry update that was both a reflection on the past and a roadmap for the future. The central theme was the cost-ofliving crisis, a challenge that resonated with everyone in the room. Despite a slight upturn in performance in the year’s earlier trading, a concerning drop in late November signalled potential hurdles ahead. Miles outlined seven key challenges for 2024, shaping the agenda for the a ernoon’s discussions. These included: 1. Cost pressures encompassing energy, minimum wage, regulatory, and business rates. / January 2024

2. The DCMS 2005 Gambling Act Review. 3. Changes to the LCCP by the Gambling Commission. 4. The implementation of Martyn’s Law. 5. The introduction of a Gambling Ombudsman. 6. The upcoming Gambling Harm Survey. 7. The transition to King Charles III Bank Notes. The cost-of-living crisis: a dominant concern A significant portion of the presentation from Miles centred on the cost-of-living crisis. Research commissioned from Savanta provided a stark picture: over a third of bingo players cited cost as a barrier to playing in physical venues. However, there was a silver lining – this figure had decreased since spring, and a third of players expected to return to playing bingo at least once a month. The Gambling Act Review: navigating regulatory changes Shi ing focus to the Gambling Act Review, a topic of paramount importance, its potential impact on the bingo sector was dissected, with particular a ention to the 80/20 rule, the Statutory Levy, cashless payments, and side bets. The BA’s successful lobbying efforts led to a significant win: the proposed levy rate for licensed Bingo Clubs was set at a manageable 0.1%. Digital innovations and social responsibility Paul Swindon, the BA’s Head of Governance and Compliance, unveiled the BA’s revamped website. The new site, with its modern design and improved navigation, reflects

the Association’s modern, forwardthinking approach. As well as information about the BA itself, it also provides links to vital resources, training, data, compliance, and includes a new-look Operators Handbook, which has been reforma ed into an interactive PDF. Readers can view the new website at Paul also touched upon the upcoming Gambling Ombudsman and the development of a Social Responsibility Code, underscoring the sector’s commitment to ethical practices, with a further update on the BA’s support with training, delivered in partnership with GamCare. Martyn’s Law: Preparing for a safer future The introduction of Martyn’s Law, named in memory of Martyn He , a victim of the Manchester Arena a ack, was a sobering topic and delivered sensitively by Danni Grant from CT Protect. The law, which is expected to be enacted by late summer 2024, will impose new counter-terrorism security requirements on public venues, large and small. This legislation is particularly relevant to the bingo sector, given the communal nature of bingo halls. Qualifying premises are split across two tiers: ENHANCED TIER: Enhanced duty premises are qualifying public premises with a public capacity of 800 or more individuals. STANDARD TIER: Standard duty premises are qualifying public premises which are not enhanced duty premises and have a capacity of 100 or more. At its most basic level, Standard Tier premises will need to provide terrorism protection training in relation

News round up

to the premises or event, and carry out evaluations and document them. Enhanced Tier premises will need to do the same, but also appoint a Designated Senior Officer, who will be responsible for conducting risk assessments, security plans and measures, and more. Cash is King! The changing face of our bank notes Esti Gonzalez from The Bank of England provided an engaging update on the upcoming HM King Charles III Banknotes. With these new notes set to enter circulation in Q2 2024, she emphasised the need for operators to update their machines by the end of March 2024. Key points from Esti included: • Banknote Equipment Manufacturers (BEMs) have already started releasing machine updates • Security features, size and material will remain unchanged from the HM Queen Elizabeth II banknotes • All four denominations (£5, £10, £20 and £50) will enter circulation on the same day • Current banknotes featuring the portrait of HM Queen Elizabeth II will continue to be legal tender The Bank of England does provide training materials at no cost to you. Please visit banknotes/retailers-and-businesses The National Bingo Game: celebrating success and looking ahead The second afternoon session began with an update from Alastair Stewart

on the National Bingo Game (NBG). The NBG’s continued popularity, with 51 jackpot winners in 2023 alone, speaks volumes about the game’s appeal. He also announced the launch of the NBG Caller of the Year 2024 competition and shared plans to reinvigorate National Bingo Day in 2024. Alastair went on to update the group on Meeron, sharing some key stats, which included 115 participating clubs, of which 110 play the Main Stage Link, and 115 play the Linked MCB. Unfortunately, 2023 has seen nine club closures and one leaver, but two clubs have joined the group. The NBGA and Meeron continue to invest in the game’s infrastructure, which includes servers, and MCB Jackpot software development. New products are also being explored, including SMS prize draws, much like those that are successful for the likes of ITV and Channel 5. Life after Meeron: ISD’s evolution Next was an insightful presentation by Chris Wrigley, focusing on the significant changes and advancements following Meeron’s sale of ISD, a name familiar to all in the BA due to their flagship Maxim system. There’s been a big operational focus since their sale to NRM Group, including the introduction of a larger team with a broader skillset. The Helpdesk has been unified with the Group’s, which has led to a large fall in unresolved tickets. Their bulk SMS service has been stabilised, and in October alone, ISD


sent over 4 million SMS messages for the first time. Maxim continues to be developed, and in 2024, Maxim (ISD) and Engage (NRM) will come together to create a ‘super-system’. Innovations in technology and sustainability The session with Rupert Harrow from Footprint Zero introduced an exciting possibility for bingo operators: rooftop solar solutions. In an era of rising energy costs, this sustainable option could be a game-changer for many venues. This presentation underscored the importance of innovation in addressing current economic challenges. Looking forward The wide range of topics covered, from regulatory changes to technological innovations and sustainability, reflected the dynamic nature of the bingo sector. The full attendance and active participation underscored the industry’s commitment to staying informed and remaining adaptable. As the industry faces new challenges and embraces emerging opportunities, events like these are crucial in fostering a united and informed community, ready to thrive in an ever-changing landscape. Many industry professionals attended – in fact the room was full to capacity! Next year’s Roadshow will be in Leeds on 28th November 2024, so save the date now, as it’s sure to be a thought-provoking and informative session once again.

January 2024 /




Our winning entry from Issue 8 goes to Lisa Kinnaird , Club3000, Middleton

WIN a £25 Amazon voucher! Solve our bumper edition word search puzzle by finding the 30 words hidden in the grid below. Note: The words may be written in any direction including backwards and diagonally. It’s out with the ‘Auld’ and in with the New as we ask you to find the answers to our New Year themed Wordsearch.

Auld Lang Syne Balloons Big Ben Calendar Celebration Countdown Champagne Confetti Dancing Extravaganza Fireworks Family Games Gathering Happy New Year Hat Hourglass Invitation January Midnight Music New Years Day Noise Maker Party Resolution Sparkler Singing Streamer Toast Tradition

B A L L O O N S O N R I G C H C G U B H N O I S E M A K E R G S K R O W E R I F U P N O I T A R B E L E C L A G F Y R T A I T N N N T S A O T C O N F E T T I Y N I S O G L N G S D O A A A E R N G R Y A U L D L A N G S Y N E I O A G A M E S R H E Y L I M A F R W E P P O H I G M S E O L L C C R A T A O B L E R R N A A N L H T N A R N H K U D I I A N S B T E A K E A A Z S G D C N T G C I C C G N R Y R D T T N N F R E A N B I I E H I O T A A G G F A R C P S J U E S L R A F I S D P N E M G H E I M R O N U R U M P T E S S I I I A I E H L R C O M B A P A A S R N R E D V H A P P Y N E W Y E A R T T A P E F N A A A E G N I G N I S G N I A E R H Y I R H O U R G L A S S Y N G V T Y L T N G T A I R N I I K R A C E E N E W R A M H X H E N O I T I D A R T M I I E H G E T E N S N A R R E S O L U T I O N All Bingo Connect Wordsearch competition entries must be received by 31st January 2024. Please email a clear picture or scan of your completed Bingo Connect Wordsearch to along with your full name by the closing date. Alternatively please remove your completed Wordsearch from the magazine, write your name and either your email address or telephone number clearly at the bottom of the page, and send it by post in an envelope addressed to: WORDSEARCH, The Bingo Association, Lexham House, 75 High Street North, Dunstable, Beds LU6 1JF by the closing date. Terms and Conditions: All entrants must be aged 18 or over. The Prize is a single Amazon Gift Voucher to the value of £25.00 and no alternative prize is available. All entries, whether sent by email or post, must be received no later than 30th November 2023. Proof of postage or transmission is not proof of receipt. All correct Bingo Connect Wordsearch entries will be entered into a draw and a single Winner drawn at random by The Bingo Association Limited. The Winner will be notified, either by email or telephone, and the Prize sent within 30 days of the closing date and the Winner’s name published in the following issue of Bingo Connect. The competition is organised by The Bingo Association Limited and their decision is final in all matters relating to this.

/ January 2024

Want to keep completely up to date with everything that’s happening in the World of Bingo? Then pop over to our online companion website Read the very latest news and views on your phone, tablet, laptop or desktop. It’s a ‘full house’ of information!



Feature: Banknote Scheme

Strategic partnership to combat banknote counterfeiting The Bingo Association and Bank of England are working together to protect your business from counterfeit banknotes.


he Bingo Association is delighted to announce that it has become a Strategic Partner of the Banknote Checking Scheme, which was created to protect businesses from the risks associated with counterfeit banknotes. What is the Banknote Checking Scheme? The Banknote Checking Scheme is a completely free initiative run by the Bank of England to help protect businesses. The Scheme sends you newsletters to alert you to updates on counterfeit trends, keep you up to date with best practice on how to check banknotes and inform you of the latest banknote news. You’ll also get a point of contact at the Bank of England for any banknote enquiries you or your / January 2024

business may have. Although the number of counterfeits has reduced substantially following the introduction of new polymer notes, businesses across the UK are still accepting counterfeit notes that could be spotted easily if the right checks were used. Counterfeits are worthless, so any counterfeit accepted is a direct loss to a business, even before any administrative costs or staff time. Criminals often target places where they have successfully passed a counterfeit repeatedly. There can also be a reputational impact from being associated with accepting counterfeit banknotes, even more so if a retailer was to accept a counterfeit and then give it out in change. So, it’s vital that businesses and their staff are educated on banknote checking and the steps to

take if they receive a note. By becoming a Strategic Partner of the Banknote Checking Scheme, the Bingo Association is showing its commitment to protecting bingo clubs, high street bingo and holiday parks across the UK. We strongly encourage you to sign up to the Scheme so you can protect your business and our industry from counterfeit banknotes. What do I gain from joining? Once you have signed up to the Scheme, the Bank of England will send you a welcome pack which contains staff training materials on banknote checking, a guide for what to do if you get a counterfeit note and a contact email address at the Bank of England. You can also request

Feature: Banknote Scheme

Banknote Checking Scheme stickers for tills, doors or company windows to inform customers that your staff check banknotes. You will receive a regular newsletter which will update you on best practice, counterfeit news and other banknote updates. In 2024, this will include information on the issuance of new banknotes featuring a portrait of King Charles III, which the Bank of England expects to issue by mid 2024. Key messages already provided on that subject include: • You will still be able to use polymer banknotes that feature the portrait of Her late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, which will continue to circulate. • You can check the King Charles notes in exactly the same way you would check existing banknotes featuring Queen Elizabeth. The Scheme also recognises the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) contribution that supporters make in helping to reduce counterfeit levels and associated proceeds from crime, and by supporting the Bank in maintaining confidence in the currency. Paul Swindon, Head of Governance & Compliance at The Bingo Association said, “BA members still heavily rely on the use of cash within their venues, so we are delighted to be able to support the Bank of England by becoming a Strategic Partner of the Banknote Checking Scheme. This allows us to share important updates, best practice guidelines and training materials with members and the wider bingo community, which will help protect businesses and customers from counterfeit banknotes and remove them from circulation.” Don’t let counterfeit notes be a cost to your business, your customers or your reputation.

“ Don’t let counterfeit notes be a cost to your business, your customers or your reputation.” Tips for banknote checking A recent Banknote Checking Scheme newsletter highlighted current best practice for banknote checking, which focuses on two key security features: the hologram image change and the see-through windows. We recommend that businesses that want to continue using secondary security checks, such as UV, do so alongside at least one of the below primary checks, which should always include the hologram image change. • The hologram image flip requires you to tilt the note side to side. Check the words change between the value of the note, ‘Five’, ‘Ten’ ‘Twenty’ or ‘Fifty’ and ‘Pounds’. This is the first check that we recommend you always use to check your banknotes.

• The see-through windows include a metallic image over the window. Check that the foil is gold on the front of the £5 and £10, gold and blue on the front of the £20, and gold and green on the front of the £50. The foil is silver on the back of all notes.

➜ The Scheme is free

to join – sign up here: banknotes/banknotechecking-scheme


January 2024 /


News round up

All change

NRM Group restructures and rebrands as Boomerang Digital

Andrew Ludlow, who has served as Managing Director of NRM Group since 2012, has completed a far-reaching strategic rebrand of the business culminating in the launch of Boomerang Digital.


he product of a 12 month business review Boomerang Digital brings NRM, ISD and Big Deal games into a single entity and in the process provides a frictionless touchpoint for customers across the totality of its technology-driven product range. Expanding on the strategy Boomerang Digital co-founder and Chief Executive Andrew Ludlow said: “We are taking the NRM heritage totalling close to 30 years of ground-breaking thinking to create a platform from which to launch the next important phase of the Group’s development under the new Boomerang Digital brand. “Throughout the 11 years that I had the privilege of being / January 2024

MD of NRM we have been on a fantastic journey which has seen us come together with Air Dice, our partners in Finland, and leverage our best-in-class team and technology in order to diversify our product offering to the extent that the old NRM no longer accurately represented who we had become.” He added: “Because Boomerang Digital is a single entity offering a range of solutions it means that customers can now talk to us much more holistically about their requirement for end-to-end solutions. For example, we have an array of customers operating Jigsaw, Mobile App, Membership, SMS, handheld tablets and compliance platforms – under Boomerang we can ensure that the technology ecosystem is appropriate and

News round up

streamlined which means having a commonality of hardware and software integration. Boomerang offers a single view, single engagement and importantly a frictionless customer journey.” Confirming that there will be no casualties as a result of the restructure Andrew Ludlow said “When businesses start talking about restructuring alarm bells can often start to ring. However, in our case the only changes will be adding the right, harmonious blend of super-talented people to the Boomerang Digital team. “To grow the business, we need the right calibre people and we will continue to recruit the additional talent that we need. In addition, we recently announced a number of promotions in the business that were all well deserved. To compliment these, I am delighted to say that Chris Wrigley will be moving to the newly created post of COO and Wayne Forster Director of Product, membership and mobile, both working alongside the current management team of the business. “The change in structure also means that we will be able to play to individual strengths, introduce clear succession planning linked to career pathways and grow the business both organically and via acquisition. A single and much more unified voice can also inspire internal and external stakeholders in a really profound and powerful way.” Boomerang Digital’s first industry appearance will be as part of the Bingo Hub at EAG, and Ludlow confirmed the importance of January’s event. “We’ve got lots to talk about, lots to share and lots of exciting and invigorating plans for the future. In order to meet the entertainment and engagement demands of tech-savvy consumers our customers have evolved and so have we. It’s a really exciting time and the team cannot wait to bring the Boomerang Digital vision to life. EAG can’t come quickly enough!”

Got a job vacancy you need to fill? Reach the whole of the bingo industry Email advertising@

Boomerang Digital make first acquisition with IHL Tech joining the UK industry’s newest brand Joining the growing Boomerang Digital family is IHL, the compliance and self-exclusion innovator established by Peter Hannibal, Howard Gant, and Paul Harris in 2016. IHL join fellow technology brands NRM, ISD and Big Deal Games all of which have been incorporated under the Boomerang Digital umbrella. Outlining what makes IHL such a ‘perfect fit’ for the business, Andrew Ludlow said: “It’s all about the three Ps – namely people, philosophy and the IHL platform. Factor in the ability to leverage IHL’s skills, knowledge, and experience into other parts of the Boomerang business and it’s very clear that this represents a strategically important acquisition. The equity holders boast relationships, networks and connections established over three decades – a history which has its own unique value”. He added: “Compliance, which is where IHL’s core strengths sit, is both pivotal and fundamental to the regulatory framework our customers operate under and is a key requirement not just in the UK but across jurisdictions where gaming is legal or poised to become legal. Significantly, IHL’s customer portfolio includes leading consumer-facing brands across the AGC, Bingo, Holiday Park, Casino and MSA sectors. I believe that as part of Boomerang IHL will be able to achieve its targets faster and in a more efficient manner. Philosophically we are very much aligned, and I look forward to working alongside Peter, Howard, and Paul as they write the next chapter in the IHL story”. Reflecting on the development IHL Chairman Peter Hannibal said: “I think this represents great news for our customers, for the growing team at Boomerang Digital and of course for Howard, Paul, and the rest of the IHL team. Being integrated within the Boomerang Digital business will take the hand brake off and release the latent potential that’s in the business courtesy of having access to a bigger team and to greater resources. Being part of a bigger but still independent enterprise will undoubtedly accelerate business growth and help us to achieve the vision that has driven the business.”

January 2024 /



News round up

Audio visual in retail bingo Bingo Connect caught up with Willow MD Steve Barlow on all things audio visual in retail bingo. With over thirty two years’ experience working in retail bingo, we asked Steve what significant changes to audio visual systems he has experienced over this time? We completed our first audio visual installation in 1992 for the then Gala Bingo, at their Colchester new build. At that time, we were more audio than video as all the screens usually came with the bingo rig. Fast forward over thirty years and the core game requirements have not changed – you must be able to call and display the current number – but the technology certainly has. The early sound systems we installed remained analogue – mostly Millbank and Baldwin Boxall – until Gala introduced the Midas club concept in the early 2000s. For these clubs we switched to a digital matrix to control the audio inputs and outputs. This was the first time we were able to take external commands from the bingo equipment to manage the sound system. This matrix switching technology was quickly superseded by the digital sound processors we still use today. Sound system amplification and speaker technology has not changed that much over the years – modern amplifiers can be a bit smaller, lighter and more power efficient – however I still often see amplifiers and speakers that we supplied and installed fifteen/twenty years ago reliably working in clubs. That covers audio, but what about screens? We did not supply screens into bingo until 2009 when Mecca started the roll out of our BiGD (Bingo information Graphical Display) screen driver. When Mecca launched their new bingo / January 2024

concept at Beeston, this was the first time that a club was fully installed with flat screen technology and used VGA distribution rather than the traditional bingo rig composite video V-DAB distribution amplifier. Now VGA distribution has been replaced by HD matrixes. Screens also have changed in this time. Many operators tried using the early Plasma displays, but these suffered terribly from screen burn due to the very static number display content. The introduction of dynamic content the BiGD screen driver, meant the early LCD panels did not suffer with this problem. Again, I still see in clubs’ screens working reliably that were installed nearly fifteen years ago. What technology changes can we expect in the next couple of years? As a business we are already noticing operators investing in new and emerging technologies. We are installing a lot of main stage LED displays and using our BiGD pixel mapping technology and our in-house creative team, we can offer direct swaps for the old stage displays. Mecca Luton was the first retail bingo club where we used AviP technology. Rather than using a fixed HD matrix we use a network switch and our Command software to manage the video inputs and outputs. This means a system is fully configurable any input to any output. It is a technology we have been using in large casinos for several years. We are also noticing a lot more operators are requiring a centrally managed service for their audio visual systems. With the audio visual system control sitting on a network, field engineers or our helpdesk teams

are able to manage their systems remotely, with the ability to complete configuration and some maintenance services without the need to visit site. For 2024 we are integrating further audio visual technologies with bingo and skill based games, at a local level and also with linked capabilities. This will allow a master club to control other linked club’s audio visual presentation as well as the bingo/skill based game. This linked capability with the right network bandwidth offers a new medium for bingo entertainment.

News round up


Bingo Plus A British success story goes global!


n an industry where innovation is key to success, Wexel Gaming’s recent international venture marks a significant milestone. Known for revolutionising the UK’s bingo scene, BingoPlus, Wexel Gaming’s flagship bingo product, is now poised to replicate its success in South Africa, in a landmark collaboration with the Goldrush Group. Wexel Gaming and Goldrush Group: A strategic alliance The partnership with South Africa’s Goldrush Group is a strategic move by Wexel Gaming, reflecting its commitment to delivering innovative, forward-thinking gaming solutions. This two year exclusive agreement will see the roll out of BingoPlus in 35 venues across six South African provinces, a move that signifies the brand’s first foray into international markets. Sean Young, CEO of Wexel Gaming, shares his enthusiasm, “Our evolution from a traditional retail-only bingo outlet to an omni-channel bingo experience has broadened our global appeal. Adapting BingoPlus for international audiences was always part of our vision, and our partnership with Goldrush Group is a significant step in this direction.” Sean also extended thanks to his development team for their tireless dedication and adaptability, noting their pivotal role in making the transition for the South African market. He added, “Given our operational team’s wealth of experience in wide-ranging rollouts, we’re perfectly positioned to seamlessly integrate our product within the Goldrush Group bingo network.” Tailoring for the South African Market The bespoke adaptation of BingoPlus for South Africa includes a ticket-on-demand solution, catering to the unique gaming environment

and regulatory landscape. This flexibility ensures that all regulatory requirements are met, enabling individual and group auditing of sites. The system’s adaptability to enable games to be delivered by a live caller mirrors the UK experience, promising an equally engaging experience for the South African audience. Allan Scott, Business Development Director at Goldrush Group, highlights the synergy between the two companies, “Having witnessed the impressive growth of the BingoPlus network in the UK and the online opportunity delivered by the website, it soon became apparent that Wexel Gaming stood out as our partner of choice. Both our firms have longstanding histories within the bingo sector, and it’s thrilling to look ahead at a shared, successful future.” A shared vision for the future As Allan said, this partnership is more than a business expansion; it’s a shared vision to set new standards in delivering unparalleled, future-fit gaming experiences. It represents a mutual step forward, championed by innovation, adaptability, and a shared spirit of excellence. BingoPlus: Redefining the UK bingo experience It’s important to understand what makes BingoPlus a standout in the UK market. Operating daily from 10 am to 11 pm, BingoPlus offers an array of bingo games, distinguished by their live-streamed format. These games are not your average online bingo sessions; they are enriched by engaging Presenters who create an atmosphere reminiscent of a traditional ‘main stage bingo’ environment.

This interactive experience, where players engage in real-time with the Presenters, gives BingoPlus a distinct edge over conventional online platforms. Broadcast from two stateof-the-art digital TV studios in Hull, a team of dedicated professionals ensures the gaming experience remains fresh and exciting. Setting the pace in global gaming In a world where gaming is constantly evolving, Wexel Gaming and Goldrush Group are not just keeping pace; they are setting it. The story of BingoPlus is one of a British success story going global. It’s a narrative of a brand that has not only captured the hearts of UK bingo enthusiasts but is now set to excite a new audience in South Africa. You can find out more at, or why not meet the team at EAG 2024. They’ll be exhibiting alongside industry partners in the Bingo Hub at Excel London from 16-18 January 2024.

➜ Wexel Gaming is exhibiting

at EAG 2024 at Excel London, alongside other industry partners. If you’re at the show, make sure you visit the Bingo Hub. And if you can’t make it to the show, visit to find out more, or call the team on 01482 620919.

January 2024 /


News round up



The Bingo Association and Variety, the Children’s Charity have been in partnership since 2015. In this time, The Bingo Association have raised over £1.8m, sponsoring 35 Sunshine Coaches in addition to funding wheelchairs and vital life enhancing equipment many individual children and schools. All of which has made an incredible difference to countless disabled or disadvantaged children across the UK - something everyone at The Bingo Association should be extremely proud of.


n 2023 the Association raised an amazing £117,000 for Variety across more than 250 clubs throughout the UK. This will fund a further two Variety Sunshine Coaches, each of which will proudly carry The Bingo Association logo as a celebration of the partnership and testament to the community focus of bingo. Rob Millington, Head of Newfriars College, a recipient of one of the Sunshine Coaches said, “We cannot express enough our thanks and gratitude to The Bingo Association for sponsoring the bus. This will impact on the lives of so many young people with special educational needs and disabilities and will give our students access to the community and places which they normally would not get the opportunity to explore. At Newfriars College, we are continuously promoting ‘Preparation for Adulthood’ and the sponsorship from The Bingo Association will enable young people to develop their confidence, independence, social and communication skills. The bus will enable once-in-a-lifetime experiences including residential trips and holidays and help create many special memories. Everyone at Newfriars would like to say a huge thank you to the Bingo association and Variety for helping to improve lives every day!” Sunshine Coaches enable schools to take children on educational and recreational days out, allowing them to

explore places they would otherwise never visit. Variety, the Children’s Charity provides practical help that makes an immediate difference to disabled and disadvantaged children and young people. This year marks the charity’s 75th anniversary and they are both grateful and excited that The Bingo Association and its wonderful members are going to be part of that, as they go ‘all out’ to reach a magical fundraising total of £2,000,000!








Great Days Out

/ January 2024

Youth Clubs


Sunshine Coaches


News round up


Bingo Self Exclusion online training course


he Bingo Association is developing a brand new online training course, in partnership with GamCare, for the benefit of BA members to give them a better understanding of the Bingo Industry Self Exclusion Scheme (BISES). It is being specifically designed for senior managers, club managers, compliance and other staff that deal with self-exclusions and provides a framework for the provision of self-exclusion services to bingo customers. The course, which will be available later this year, will explain what self-exclusion is, the gambling regulations and compliance behind it, and the expectations of how the self-exclusion process should be conducted. Developed as a standalone course, it can also be used as a follow-on course to the Customer Interaction for Bingo Operators, also developed by the BA and GamCare. More details will be available in the coming weeks.

Diary Dates 16th - 18th January EAG Expo – London ExCel April National Bingo Game - Caller of The Year 2024 gets underway 9th May The Bingo Association AGM 12:00pm - 4:00pm Hallam Conference Centre, London 20th June BA Charity Golf Day and Dinner Belton Woods Hotel Golf & Spa Resort, Belton, Grantham

In Profile If you would like to feature in our ‘In Profile’ section, or know someone who you think would make a great profile

Contact us at January 2024 /


In profile: Laurie Carpenter

The Generation Game - Coronet Bingo The familiar nature of bingo and the communities it supports and creates ensure that it is one of the most accessible social networks for people of all ages and backgrounds: a broad church, where all are welcome to join the ‘family’ and fun.


ith around a third of all licensed bingo clubs in Great Britain independently owned and run, many being family run, it is no surprise that in some clubs the ‘bingo family’ includes real family. New Coronet Bingo in Didcot is one such club. Very much at the heart of a close knit community, the club has been managed, to date, by three generations of the same family, with a fourth generation just testing the waters. Laurie Carpenter, grandson of the founder is currently at the helm, a man who loves his job and is always prepared to go the extra mile for customers at Coronet. The New Coronet was built in the 1930s as a cinema which Bill and Norma Carpenter took over in 1977 with their son John. The local landmark continued to run exclusively as a cinema until 1974, when bingo was introduced just for four nights a week. Following Bill’s death in 1980 Norma and John took over running the venue and by 1984 had decided to offer bingo seven days a week, due to its popularity. Norma Carpenter, who was known to all as Mrs. C, was part of the business up to 2021, when she passed away aged 91. Son John is still supporting his son (Norma’s grandson) Laurie, who has been full time in the business since 2002 (after completing university), with his sister also on hand to help out, outside of her full-time job as a teacher. Laurie was born in 1979 in Oxford, attending school in Abingdon, followed by college at the BRIT (British Record Industry Trust) School in London. The BRIT School is the leading performing and creative arts school in the UK, covering such areas as music, film, digital design, community arts and production. Previous attendees include Katie Melua (singer-songwriter), Tom Holland (actor), Cush Jumbo (actor), Leona Lewis (singer-songwriter), Amy Winehouse (singer-songwriter) and of course, Adele. It was already clear that Laurie had his sights firmly set on a career performing, though quite how this was to manifest was not yet clear. His next step after the BRIT School was to bring him a little closer to bingo, if only geographically, attending the University of Bedfordshire in Luton, not far from The Bingo Association HO in Dunstable, where he studied for his / January 2024

➜ Left: Laurie Carpenter and Ambra Garafolo at the BA Reception ➜ Middle: John, Norma and Laurie Carpenter ➜ Right: Daughter Mila testing life at the mic

Degree in Media Performance and Radio. “My university years were fantastic!” Laurie said. “Quite how beneficial they were for my health I am not too sure! But I did get my Degree, to go with my BTEC in Media Studies and A Levels in Film Studies and Photography.” Inducted into the world of bingo through work experience aged 15, he thought it was going to be an easy ride, seeing as it was the family business. His Dad had the measure of him and absolutely worked him to the bone, or so Laurie claims! “I was bred into slavery! I was actually working abroad doing beach watersports in Greece. I would work the summers there then the winters in the UK. Happy days! “On a return visit to the UK I stopped by bingo for a cup of tea and was asked to help out as we had just lost an assistant manager, around the time of the smoking ban. I said I would for a short while and was then asked to stay on to do battle and bring the club kicking and screaming into the 21st century. It was hard. “I remember my very first year doing payroll – all on paper.

In profile: Laurie Carpenter

It was a nightmare. One year doing it on paper I swore I would update everything onto computers. All our accounting and day to day running of the club has since been done on computers using Excel programs I have created and enhanced over the years. But the most difficult thing was surviving the smoking ban. “There were some really hard times, but I don’t miss climbing onto stage into a cloud of smoke! As we finally hit one of the best years we’ve had since the smoking ban, yearend 2020, Covid hit. And that was really tough to take. But again, we survived. And we have learnt some important business lessons. “Since fully re-opening business has been very good – and we are still paper only! My nan, who worked full time here, right up until she died aged 91 two years ago, insisted we never go electronic. I argued with her, but she was right. It’s now our USP!” A bingo fan who loves the game, as well as works in it, Laurie has done just about every role there is from cleaning to floor staff, book sales and bar, right the way up to manager and now director. “I do love it. But for some reason if I visit another club to play they always seem to know I run my own club despite trying to play incognito.” Bingo definitely runs in the family DNA, but we are yet to discover whether Laurie has passed it on. To the best of his knowledge he only has one direct descendant, though there is a hazy period surrounding four summers in Faliraki. Together with partner of 12 years Ambra, he is waiting to see if any latent bingo tendencies show in their daughter Mila. At 6, it is just too early to tell. When both your work ‘family’ and your family have a lot of members in common, it may be too much for some. But not so for Laurie, who manages to find quiet times away from work. “I love being a Dad and family life with Ambra, who is a great mum and cook, and love life at bingo, but I have always liked time out too. My running and long-distance hiking give me some of that which is important. “I regularly do park runs and volunteer for it too when I can. I am a member of Didcot Runners and have done many long-distance hikes. Several of these have been representing The Bingo Association raising money for GambleAware/ Safer Gambling. I have also walked across Spain, East to West (Camino de Santiago) and South to North. Walked Milan to Rome and Coast to Coast from East to West. Walked the length of Portugal from Lisbon. “In the job you are surrounded by people all the time so


sometimes its nice to just stick a bag on your back and go for a long walk on your own to relax the mind. In fact some of my best business ideas have come when walking! It has been a little difficult since having our daughter but before Mila started school we went on a family hike from Porto up to Santiago in Northern Spain, all along the coast. Mila loved the adventure! I’m hoping to walk 800km in April along the northern coast of Spain but will see what happens. I love it. It’s basically a longdistance bar crawl with great food and even better wine.” As a born extrovert and performer, who’s lifelong commitment to, and appreciation of, food and wine is unwavering, what has kept Laurie’s passion for bingo alive? “The social side of course. I suppose you could say I fell in love with the people, the place and the atmosphere. It is a great job, slightly unsociable hours but very sociable, and very rarely do I wake up on a Monday morning with the blues. I actually look forward to coming to work.” “The most rewarding aspects are seeing people enjoy themselves. It is a very comfortable place to socialise, like a home from home and our staff help create that feeling. Most will say this is more like their social life than a job and I am always surprised by how varied our customers are, young and old, singles and groups, all interacting well and enjoying the experience. “A customer once told me that he brought his mother-in-law to play bingo when he first started dating his wife. He said it was perfect because its social but then you quieten down while the numbers are called and this gave him time to think of questions and conversation with his mother-in-law without the awkward silences. I liked that. But also the chance to see people win money that will make a genuine difference. That’s when it warms the cockles of your heart.”

➜ Andy and Jason Batup at The BA Charity Golf Day 2023

➜ To find out more about New Coronet Bingo visit:

January 2024 /


In profile: Andy Crump

Learning a new language Mecca Bingo’s Andy Crump has been adding a third language to his linguistic skills over the past eighteen months, that of bingo-lingo. No, the managing director of bingo’s most recognised brand has not been familiarising himself with classic bingo calls, but more so with the sector’s multitude of abbreviations and acronyms.


ndy joined the Rank Group in May 2022 having previously worked in the retail and hospitality sectors, most recently for high street stalwart Marks & Spencer as Head of Hospitality Operations, prior to which he was with Punch Taverns and McDonalds. Whilst Bingo may not technically be part of the retail and hospitality sector, its continuing evolution and Andy’s vision for Mecca, certainly places it alongside. Hospitality is very much a key ingredient in delighting both current and new customers, and Andy’s experience in this arena has already provided new perspectives on Mecca’s venues and business, as the club bingo proposition shapes up for an exciting future. Born in Vigo, Northwest Spain, some thirty minutes north of the border with Portugal, which may explain his love of the sunshine, Andy is not of Spanish descent. His Dad, a geologist, was working for an international mining company during the 1970s exploring for gold and tin deposits in the region, his mum perhaps uncoincidentally went on to become a modern foreign languages teacher. Those roots have stayed close to Andy’s heart, having gone on to study his native tongue later in life, and developing a reasonable mastery of Spanish, since his family returned to the UK. / January 2024

The move back to England saw Andy and his parents se le in Shrewsbury, which was where he a ended school and college. A further cross border move took place post turning 18, when he studied Marine Zoology at Bangor University, in North Wales. Andy got all his key home relocations in before turning 22, as upon finishing his degree he moved back across the border to Stokeon-Trent, which was to become his permanent family home, despite pulls from career moves. Having worked for McDonalds whilst studying at university, Andy applied to be part of their graduate training scheme. “Like so many I stumbled into a career in hospitality, via the golden arches of McDonalds,” Andy commented. “The graduate training scheme saw me with my first McDonalds store at the age of 22 and lots of brilliant commercial experience with a fabulous brand followed.” A er ten years with McDonalds, as Andy reached his late 20s he was ready for a change and moved into the world of pubs at Punch Taverns. In January 2004 he became a Business Development Manager for the then biggest pub company in the UK. A progressive thirteen year career at Punch, spanned a wide range of leadership roles, both regionally, centrally and nationally, encompassing Operations, Property, Compliance and Strategy.

It was while at Punch that Andy met his wife, Jo, who now works for Mitchells & Butlers as Operations Director for Ember Inns, operating over 150 sites across the UK. Jo and Andy have a two year old daughter, Isla, and Andy’s son Josh, 20, is studying to be a chiropractor and daughter Ellie, 18, is studying HR. When Andy ‘called time’ on the pub sector, with hospitality very much part of his DNA, he was hungry for a new challenge and joined Marks & Spencer. His role as Head of Hospitality Operations saw him responsible for over 400 sites that operated their Cafe, Deli Counter, Marketplace and Fresh Pizza concepts and also enabled him to work on key franchise and concession partnerships for the business. “Marks & Spencer is an amazing organisation to work for and it was exciting to be part of their hospitality journey, which is still very much transforming, but before long I was ready to explore a sector where hospitality is evolving to be centre stage. I realised Bingo was calling and that become very evident a er I had my first proper club bingo experience. I had previously only ever played on holiday and that did not, and does not, hold a candle to the club

In profile: Andy Crump

experience.” On the subject of Jo and him both working in hospitality, Andy concedes that does mean there is a lot of ‘shop talk’, not just at home but sadly when on holiday too! “When you’ve got an eye for brilliant hospitality and it’s in both your bloodstreams, you just can’t help but notice things and have the inevitable conversations about what went well, what didn’t, what we would do differently and what could be improved. At times that can be really exciting, especially when we see businesses and people deliver something new, it can be brilliant! “This does all make travel a challenge as we never seem to fully leave that hospitality lens behind, but when we do take a break it is always somewhere sunny and top of the list is Dubai – great weather, great food and great service. There is just no appeal in a ski trip for us at all, not even to the indoor ski slope in Dubai!” Eighteen months into the role Andy is certainly making sure that Mecca’s star rises. “Mecca truly is a fabulous business to lead, a brand steeped in the heritage of Bingo, with really engaged teams, who are hugely passionate and invested in our future success. “And that passion is never more evident than in our venues’ teams, led by our General Manager population. A critical role in our success, they know their customers and their marketplace better than anyone, and we are really starting to reap the rewards from getting a better balance between central support and local autonomy over the last 12 months especially. “Bingo is a genuinely wonderful industry to work in that has greeted a newbie like me with great warmth and support. I’m equally as proud and often humbled to witness the role that Bingo clubs play at the heart of their communities, providing valuable warmth, company and support for so many people.” Andy and family remain based in Stoke, which does mean quite a commute to Mecca’s Maidenhead HQ, but it also puts him within easy reach of a large number of bingo clubs, both Mecca’s own and those of competitors.

The planned pace of change at Mecca is not slowing down as Andy and team set their sights on 2024, armed with and informed by what has been learnt from the radical new club design at Luton. “There’s much to celebrate at Luton and there’s no doubting it’s a real move on for our business. A bright, vibrant, contemporary feel, with enhanced, immersive audio-visual opportunities, it has not only clearly resonated with our existing Luton customers but also very much with a new demographic, helping us to understand better what customers want from a bingo venue and experience moving forward. “It’s not all about huge leaps forward of course, and whilst Luton is a great statement of our transformation intent, other clubs have benefitted and continue to benefit from both internal and external enhancements also. This year will see a total of fourteen venues receive game-changing external refurbishments and signage, as well as a similar number of slots arcades being completely transformed. All helping to improve our kerbside appeal, turn the dial on the customer experience and create venues that our colleagues and customers can be proud of. “Bingo really is enjoying a resurgence and is very much on trend. In a typical week over half of our new retail customers are under 35, and we’re seeing a more diverse crowd, with 35% of younger players identifying as male. With lots of new customers signing up for their first bingo experience every week it’s incumbent on us to ensure we meet, but better still, exceed their expectations, as well as ensure we continue to look after our incredibly important current members. We’re focussed on investing in and delivering clubs that players are proud of and building an industry fit for the future. “Despite this positivity, there’s no doubting the industry faces increasingly challenging times, as straight off the wrecking ball that was

Covid comes the review of the Gambling Act. A challenge, not least in terms of the volume of work involved, but also in ensuring that the industry is accurately represented, heard and understood.” The wider bingo sector has started to see more of Andy, not just as MD of Mecca Bingo, but also as a leader for the industry, having accepted the role of Chairman of The Bingo Association. “I’m delighted to be able to play a key role in The Bingo Association, especially at such a pivotal time for the industry. Early signs look like the Gambling Act Review might give us the platform for some much-needed modernisation of our proposition and the chance to evolve the bingo experience to become ever more engaging and immersive for all customers, both current and future.” Eyes down for 2024, it’s certainly going to be a busy year for Andy, at both Mecca and in his wider industry role. His signature home cooked dish, paella, may need to be substituted for a Marks & Spencer ready-meal, but we hope he finds time for his other passions somewhere in the sun – eating great food, playing golf and watching Aston Villa!

January 2024 /



Feature: Economic update from EY

The Autumn Statement:

eyes down for the next election Chris Sanger, Partner at Ernst & Young LLP


he Chancellor of the Exchequer, Jeremy Hunt, delivered his Autumn Statement on 22 November 2023. On a day of very big numbers, including 110 growth measures and £80bn in tax cuts, the figures that matter most for the Bingo industry are probably the zeroes that meant no increase to either Bingo Duty or Machine Games Duty. Finding himself with some money to spend, the Chancellor opted for a mix of tax cuts and investment incentive measures. The headline grabbing measures were, on the one hand the two percentage point cut in the rate of employees National Insurance Contributions, and, on the other, making permanent the “full expensing” deduction that allows companies to claim full tax relief on new capital expenditure (above the £1m per annum already provided by the Annual Investment Allowance). His very clear message was that he wanted to boost growth by encouraging business investment and by making work pay. Behind the headlines lay some measures which should make interesting reading in the Bingo industry. The first is the announcement that the government will consult shortly on proposals to bring remote gambling (meaning gambling offered over the internet, telephone, TV and radio) into a single tax, rather than taxing it through a three-tax structure. This suggests that the Treasury has been thinking about gambling taxes, but has not felt moved to make change to the taxation of bingo. This may be good news, suggesting that bingo is not seen as a ”problem” – and that view seems to be borne out by the proposal to leave the RET levy for bingo at 0.1% while raising it for other gambling sectors. As we approach the Spring Budget, and the General Election, the industry will likely want to remind the Treasury why bingo is special and needs to be treated differently. The second interesting measure is the freeze on alcohol duties, since the historic halving of the bingo rate in 2014 was combined with a cut in tax on beer in what was described by one newspaper as the ‘Beer and Bingo Budget’. We might, then, take some further solace from this signal that there are no current plans to raise taxes on either booze or bingo. / January 2024

The challenge now is to keep things that way as we head towards the Spring Budget and beyond. Over the years, The Bingo Association has successfully ensured that policy makers are fully aware of the contributions bingo makes to the economy, to the Exchequer and to local communities across the country. Continuing to get these messages into the heart of government is going to be more important than ever as a General Election approaches. This Autumn Statement suggests that bingo starts from a strong position, and this will need to be maintained in the growing clamour of an election year. There may even be a case, before the background noise becomes too loud, for bingo to push for something nice, rather than just fend off something nasty.

➜ Chris Sanger is Tax Policy Leader at EY and

Steven Effingham Tax Policy Director at EY. The EY tax policy network has advisers in more than 85 countries and advises clients on how to effect policy change directly and through strategically engaging policy makers.

Feature: Gambling Survey for Great Britain


Gambling Survey for Great Britain (GSGB) The Gambling Commission has completed the final stage of a key project, which explores how to improve the way the industry collects data on adult gambling participation and the prevalence of those who experience difficulties or harms through their gambling.


he project, which started in 2020, has been undertaken by NatCen, working on a sample of approximately 4,000 respondents, with data collected between April and May 2023. The improved methodology underpinning the new survey will allow much greater breakdown and analysis of engagement and behaviour. The findings of this work, while only covering a two month period rather than a full year, have revealed some interesting points and areas for discussion, with both potential users and stakeholders.

• overall, 2.5 percent of respondents scored 8 plus on the Problem Gambling Severity Index (PGSI) screen with a further 3.5 percent scoring between 3 and 7, and 8 percent scoring between 1 and 2. The remainder of respondents either had a PGSI score of 0 (47.1 percent) or were a non-gambler in the past 12 months (38.9 percent). Please note - The data presented from this stage of work is not comparable to previous gambling survey publications due to changes in the methodology.

Example new analysis format that we might expect: Three engagement panels were held in December last year, ahead of the expected implementation later this year: • Wave 1 release – Feb 2024 Includes Participation data, why people gamble and feelings towards Participation in gambling gambling Gambled in Last 4 Weeks by Age

Gambling Participation Last 4 Weeks / Last 12 Months 70%

Summary of findings • 50 percent of respondents gambled on any activity in the past four weeks, with participation higher in males than females. • in the last 12 months, 61 percent of respondents have gambled on any activity • the most popular activities to participate in, in the past four weeks were the National Lottery (32 percent), charity lotteries (15 percent) and National Lottery scratchcards (13 percent) • most gamblers took part in gambling for monetary reasons (the chance of winning big money or to make money) or for enjoyment reasons (because it’s fun or exciting) • in terms of how they felt about gambling (on a scale of 0 to 10 with 0 being ‘hated it’ and 10 being ‘loved it’), 44 percent of gamblers rated their last gambling experience as at least a score of six out of ten. A further 37 percent selected the mid-point score of five out of ten



60% 50% 40% 30%


47% of females gambled in the last 4 weeks

20% 10%

Last 4 weeks

Unweighted bases of those providing a valid response (n=3693-3729)


35% 39%











Unweighted bases of those providing a valid response (n=3679-3724)




5% 0%











37% 31%




Number of Gambling Activities Last 4 Weeks / Last 12 Months 40%



Unweighted bases of those providing a valid response (n=3727)

In Person and Online Participation Last 4 Weeks

Any gambling in person



Last 12 months

Any gambling online







50% 40%




53% of males gambled in the last 4 weeks











Last 4 Weeks

2% 6

1% 1%

1% 1%

1% 1%

3% 2%





Last 12 Months

Unweighted bases of those providing a valid response (n=1775-2149)

• Wave 2 release – May 2024 Includes Participation data, why people gamble and feelings towards Participation by activity – Last 4 weeks gambling Lotteries Tickets for National Lottery -Tickets for National Lottery – Online -Tickets for National Lottery – In person

Bingo and Casino



Bingo played online/in app



Bingo played at a venue




Casino games online/app



Casino games played in a casino


-Tickets for other charity lotteries - Online


Casino games played on a machine in a venue


-Tickets for other charity lotteries – In person


Tickets for other charity lotteries

Scratchcards and Instant Wins


Fruit and Slots


National lottery scratchcards


Fruit/slots online/app


Other scratchcards


Fruit/slots in person


National lottery online instant win games


Other online instant win games




Other Activities

Betting on sports/racing online/via app


Football pools


Betting on sports/racing in person


Private betting e.g. with friends


Betting on outcome events online


Another form of gambling


Betting on outcome events in person


The first Year 1 Report is expected this coming July.

January 2024 /



Feature: Employment update from Taylor Walton

Changes to flexible working requests The Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Act 2023 (the Act), which is expected to come into force in early/ mid 2024, will make several significant changes to the statutory framework for flexible working requests. The Act does not grant an absolute right to flexible working, but instead aims to encourage discussion between employers and employees regarding how to best approach flexible working.


mployees with at least 26 weeks of continuous employment are currently entitled to make flexible working requests to their employer. This could be related to: • A change to the hours they work. • A change to the times when they are required to work. • A change to the place of work (as between their home and any of the employer’s workplaces). What changes will be introduced? Although not provided for in the new Act, the government in December 2023 put forward the Flexible Working (Amendment) Regulations 2023 that will remove the requirement for an employee to have at least 26 weeks’ continuous employment, providing employees with a right to request flexible working as a ‘day-one’ right from 6 April 2024. This means that an employee will be able to make a flexible working request on their first day of work after this date. However, this right is limited to requests for flexible working - for example a newly appointed employee cannot demand that they are to work from home from day one as some media reports have implied. The key legislative changes are as follows: • Employees will be allowed to make two requests (rather than one) in any 12-month period. However, it / January 2024

will not be possible to make a further application while another application to the same employer is already proceeding. • Employers will be obliged to consult with employees before rejecting a request. • When making a request, an employee will no longer have to explain what effect, if any, the employee thinks their requested change would have on the employer and how any such effect might be dealt with. • The time for an employer to make a decision will be reduced from three to two months (although it will remain open for the parties to agree a longer period). Rejecting flexible working requests The government will retain the current list of eight business reasons for refusing a flexible working request, which are: • The burden of additional costs. • Detrimental effect on ability to meet customer demand. • Inability to reorganise work among existing staff. • Inability to recruit additional staff. • Detrimental impact on quality of work. • Detrimental impact on performance. • Insufficiency of work during the periods the employee proposes to work. • Planned structural changes in the workforce.

The government believes that rather than placing the sole responsibility on the employee to set out the effect of their request on the employer, employers should seek to engage with employees jointly to understand the impact of the flexible working request on the business. This is consistent with making the right to request flexible working a day-one right as a new employee would not be in a position to assess the impact of their request at the beginning of their employment. Employers should therefore engage in dialogue with the employee and consider whether an alternative flexible arrangement that better suits the needs of the business could be adopted. What are the legal risks? The primary risk for employers handling flexible working requests is that employees possessing a protected characteristics may seek to bring a claim of indirect discrimination under the Equality Act 2010. For example,

Featured: Employment update from Taylor Walton


“ The Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Act marks a significant shift in post-covid working arrangements.”

highlighted that a discrimination claim may arise as soon as a decision is perceived to have been taken. Rather than refusing at the outset, it may be safer for employers to agree to trial a requested arrangement for an agreed period. This means that if the arrangement proves to be unworkable, the employer can extract evidence to underline why this is the case. This will put the employer in a stronger position to defend any subsequent claims that follow.

it has long been accepted that as women tend to have more childcare responsibilities than men, insisting that women work long or inflexible hours can amount to indirect sex discrimination. Employers should carefully consider each request on its own individual merits but also bear in mind how they have dealt with other similar requests. This is because taking a different approach in similar circumstances may lead to complaints of unfairness and potential claims of discrimination. The recent case of ‘Glover’

New Acas Code of Practice In response to the new legislation, Acas will be updating its statutory Code of Practice on handling flexible working requests. The Code will promote a more positive approach to flexible working and will strengthen the existing practice guidance by: • Extending the categories of those individuals who may accompany an employee at meetings to discuss a request; • Providing guidance that employers should set out such additional information as it is reasonable to help explain their decision; and • Providing guidance that employers should allow an appeal where a request has been rejected.

Preparing for the legislative amendments Employers should review their existing flexible working policies and processes to ensure that they can comply with the new legislative amendments coming into force. Employers should begin considering potential issues that may arise from employees working flexibly, and how flexible arrangements would work in practice. The changes are expected to create an increase in flexible working requests. Employers should therefore look at how long current requests are taking to process, and whether this will cause any issues once the time frame is shortened from three months to two months. Final thoughts The Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Act marks a significant shift in post-covid working arrangements. As with all employment matters, it makes sense for employers to seek advice and review their procedures before responding to these changes, as and when they come into effect.

➜ Alec Colson is a Solicitor and Head of Employment at Taylor Walton LLP and advises The Bingo Association on employment matters. He can be contacted on 01582 390470 or via email

January 2024 /


Feature: Focus on Land-based gambling sector regulation

Tis the season for consultations! 2023 has been a significant year in terms of regulation of our bingo premises. This autumn, in the run up to Christmas, we have been considering and responding to proposed changes to the Gambling Act 2005 and the Gambling Commission’s Licence Codes and Codes of Practice, (LCCP) which will have a big impact on bingo.


here are opportunities, most particularly with the upcoming increase in category B gaming machines, although as always there are risks. The deadline for responses to the consultation on measures relating to the land-based gambling sector was back on the 4th October. Since then, the government have been in contact with The Bingo Association on an additional option to the three that were proposed. Reminding ourselves, option one was a 50/50 split of category B machines and category C/D with the existing ‘available for use’ provisions. Option two was similar but took into account devices, so that the 50/50 split was applied to particular devices. We could have a tablet with B3 gaming machine content, if we had another tablet with category C gaming machine content. This option was the one to be avoided. Then there was the third option, and the option the Association preferred in the response to the government, of no requirement on set gaming machine ratios. Under this option bingo could have any mix of machines that worked for the business. We have now been asked to consider another option (although as it stands currently not a policy proposal), which is a 2 to 1 ratio of category B to C/D gaming machines, but taking into account devices, so tablets and slim machines. This received a mixed response, and as I write we do not know whether this option will be put to government ministers by the civil servants for consideration. We are expecting the ministers to consider the proposals in the weeks running up to Christmas, which could mean draft legislation early next year, with implementation, and more machines on the floors of our bingo halls, by the summer. Let’s hope any election doesn’t get in the way of the timetable. The Bingo Association has just submitted the response

/ January 2024

to the levy consultation. Credit must go to The Bingo Association for lobbying prior to the publication of the consultation, such that we were asked to consider a 0.1% levy on land-based bingo. This being the current percentage paid by operators under the voluntary requirement in the LCCP. Unfortunately, there were a number of uncertainties within the levy consultation, for instance on ancillary remote bingo licences, required for linked bingo and offering tablets. There are also wider issues with linked games, with, for instance, the National Bingo Game which has a remote bingo licence. Under the proposals the National Bingo Game would be levied at 1% being a tenfold increase in the amount paid to research, prevention and treatment of gambling-related harms. In addition, gaming machine manufacturers and suppliers, and those businesses who maintain your gaming machines, suffered from a proposed levy rate of 0.4%, the fear being that cost may be passed on to operators. There are other increased costs which will come out of the white paper. One of the topics of the consultation on measures relating to land based gambling was a proposal to increase licencing authority annual fees for bingo premises. The proposals were for either a 10%, 20%, or 30% increase. For those of you with multiple premises the additional fees will add up. The fees haven’t been increased since 2007, during which time inflation has inevitably reduced its value. The government believe it is appropriate to increase these fees so that local authorities can cover the costs of their gambling licencing and enforcement activity, and increase activity where needed. Some of you will ask whether the increased fees are necessary, as it may have been a long time

Feature: Focus on Land-based gambling sector regulation

since you had a licencing officer from your local council visit your venue/s. One of the consultations we might expect this year relates to the Gambling Commission who will be empowered to set their own fees, which they are most likely to do upward. Another of the white paper policy developments we can also expect to see is the ombudsman. I understand that it may take some time for the ombudsman to be introduced. I don’t expect that to have a significant impact on bingo operations, the ombudsman is much more likely to be dealing with complaints from online players and customers in betting shops, rather than players of land based bingo. But there will be a cost to operate the ombudsman. Another of the aspects of the consultation on measures relating to the land-based gambling sector was cashless payments on gaming machines. This is a welcome development, there are some technical hurdles, but we can expect to see draft legislation during 2024, and hopefully by the end of the year the introduction of technology to allow direct payments onto machines. In 2024 we should also see the Gambling Commission’s proposals on improving consumer choice on direct marketing, which has been of particular concern. The consultation proposals would require customers to opt-in

to marketing of different products. As drafted it requires operators to re-engage with all customers, to confirm their marketing preferences, before operators can then market to them. This will not be an easy task if the final code provision or condition, is as drafted in the proposals. At the very least we will need some time to re-engage with customers, to update their marketing preferences, before the LCCP requirement to provide customers with options to opt-in to the product type becomes a mandatory requirement. It would be better would be for the Gambling Commission, in the final provisions, to only require fresh opt-in for online operators, and not for land-based bingo clubs. Considering that the issues with marketing have tended to come from online operators, this would be an appropriate approach.

➜ Nick Arron is the lead partner for the Betting and

Gaming Team at Poppleston Allen LLP . Poppleston Allen act for The Bingo Association and advises its members. Nick can be contacted via email or telephone 07968 805559.

Wishing all Members a happy and prosperous New Year!


January 2024 /



Bingo has a long history in the UK where it has always been about people, community and fun. Since it became popular here in the 1950s and 60s, operators, the media and private individuals have been there to record events and occasions, capturing unique moments, people and places that have played their part in bingo’s rich history. Since 2015 Sean Connolly - known by many in the bingo sector - began sharing all his old bingo photos on Facebook ‘Bingo Photos Old and New’ and has posted over 7,000 images of people and clubs which has enabled a great many colleagues to reconnect.

Sean’s been ‘scouting’ out pictures from his collection of Pancake Jamborees from the 1980s and 1990s. It’s all in the wrist apparently!

➜ Pancake champion at unknown venue circa 1987

➜ Wigan Station Road’s cheerleaders at 1986 pancake Jamboree

➜ Barry Lewis Cox acting as timekeeper at Coral Social Club Ashton in Makerfield 1986

/ January 2024

➜ Mansfield’srepresentative at 1993 pancake Jamboree


➜ Ashton in Makerfield Jamboree 1986 ➜ Warrington and Chester’s competitors go head to head in 1986

➜ Great Lancashire Jamboree 1986 ➜ Mansfield customers arriving at Wolverhampton in 1993

➜ Arriving at pancake Jamboree in 1994

➜ If you have bingo images that you would like to donate to and/or share with Sean, please contact him via Facebook or email:

➜ Salford pancake tossing champion 1990

January 2024 /


th B in U us H 24 Y nd O 0 R Fi NG 2 NUA BI AG8 JA E 1 6-




to success!








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