Bingo Connect - May 2024 - Issue 10

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May 2024 Issue 10 - £6 The Magazine for the Bingo Industry TM IN THIS ISSUE From funtreprenur to bingo saviour! Looking back at 47 years in bingo! voucher up for grabs! Enter our wordsearch Bingo Association AGM 2024 roundup Boot scootin’ bingo


‘When we all come together we can achieve so much’

It was great to see so many members attend the AGM of the Bingo Association on the 9th May. Despite the travel disruption of train strikes nearly 100 members managed to make their way to the Hallam Conference Centre to celebrate another eventful year.

Yes there is all the formal stuff, and yes there was a glittering array of speakers, but there was also the feeling of being amongst friends, of having gone through good and bad times together, and of sticking together. In fact we have done more than that, and the green shoots of recovery can be seen.

And that’s the Bingo culture, the Bingo way, when we all come together we punch above our weight, and can achieve so much.

However, no sooner does the AGM finish, then another huge event appears on the horizon.

On June 27th we celebrate National Bingo Day as part of National Bingo Week. Although only in its third year, this event raises the profile of the great game of Bingo and the role that Bingo Clubs play in our community. We do this by promoting two big ideas, one of value on the 27th June itself and one of community on June 30th. I encourage every operator of a licensed Bingo premise to get behind these two events, not because of any selfish self-interest but because here is a chance for the industry to unite around some common themes, and looking at last year’s business results, it really does work!

But it’s not just about business results on this occasion, in between the two events , Bingo Association members and customers raise a minimum of £20,000 towards the Bingo Association charity, Variety - the Children’s Charity. We invite our constituency MP’s to call a charity game at their local club, and to date we are expecting more than 40 MP’s to take up the invitation. Again this is an opportunity to come together for one great cause, our nominated charity, but also to raise the profile of the good works that Bingo clubs and their customers do each and every day.

Our efforts so far have reached £1.8m , so it will be no surprise that Target £2m is a term you may hear frequently between now and the end of the year.

So good luck with fundraising and with National Bingo Week. Remember, when we all come together we can achieve so much!

Thanks as always to those who support this great industry.

3 May 2024 /
4 / May 2024 6 Contents Variety Club 75th Anniversary Dinner 16 6 May 2024 Foreword News round up In profile Features Susan hits the jackpot at Mecca Bingo Kingstanding 13 Dabbers Bingo launches comedy caller contest 16 3 Miles Baron, Chief Executive, The Bingo Association 31 Anthony Cockburn and keeping Chris Clavering’s legacy alive 10 Round-up of the Bingo Association AGM 2024 Duncan Bain’s bingo journey 28 Shadow Minister visits Buzz Bingo Barnsley 22 Welcome to Bingo Connect, the magazine for the bingo industry in the UK, and the official magazine of The Bingo Association. Kevin McGinnigle from funtrepreneur to bingo saviour! 32 Expert insights 36 Taylor Walton explains new rules for holiday pay and entitlement for casual workers Poppleston Allen discusses 3 key developments for the gambling industry 38 Club 3000 Cardiff unveils £3 million makeover! 26

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.


The Bingo Association™


Managing Editor Rob Johnson

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 wri en consent.

ISSN 2752-6372

5 May 2024 / 32 28
26 42

Variety Club 75th Anniversary Dinner

We’re on-track to raise £2 million!

We continue to support our charity of choice, Variety, the Children’s Charity, wherever possible and we have currently raised over £1.8million.

And with the Bingo Association’s upcoming Golf Day, alongside other committed fund-raising activities planned with operators during National Bingo Week in June, we are positive we will hit our target of £2 million by the end of this year!

Variety celebrates 75 years

Variety recently celebrated their 75th anniversary in the UK with the Chairman’s Reception held in London and hosted by Professor Jonathan Shalit OBE and Tushar Prabhu, Variety’s Chair and Co-Chair, joined by Chief Barker Michale Josephson MBE. A few representatives from the BA attended; it was an opportunity for the charity to thank their supporters. They are as ever so grateful for all your support and contributions.

Variety beneficiary and supporter Olympian Tessa Sanderson CBE also attended. Tessa gave a moving speech on how Variety helped her in her childhood with their funding in making her dreams come true to compete at the highest level.

Variety also announced their partnership with Team Paralympics GB

and Channel 4 on the second annual Variety Club Disability Sports Awards, which will be held in London after this year’s Paralympics on 25th November at the @sohoplace theatre in London.

We were honoured to be joined by Variety beneficiary and Young Ambassador Illias, who is taking the world of wheelchair racing by storm. Illias wowed guests with his story as he reflected on his journey in parasports and thanked Variety’s supporters whose generosity made his racing success possible.

To end the night, Variety unveiled plans for a new fundraising initiative to raise £15million for the Variety Children Hospital’s Ward at King’s College Hospital, to help raise the hospital’s paediatrics to an international level. They are thrilled to invigorate their forty-year relationship

with the children’s hospital, which sees over 70,000 children pass through its doors every year.

Professor Jonathan Shalit OBE and Tushar Prabhu thanked the BA, their generous members, and their wonderful player communities for their support over the past years, and are grateful for their hard work and efforts in 2024 to achieve the monumental £2m fundraising total.

Dust off your golf clubs for Variety! Finally, there are two major Golf Day events this summer, that will help us get even closer to our fundraising goal for Variety.

Firstly, the Bingo Association will be holding their annual Charity Golf Day and Dinner on Thursday 20th June. Whether you play golf or simply come for the drinks and dinner in

6 / May 2024
News round up
the ➜ From L to R: Alastair Stewart, Tessa Sanderson CBE and Sarah Mercer

evening, it promises to be a key event for the industry to network and raise money for the charity.

This year we’re at a new venue, the beautiful Belton Woods Hotel, Spa & Golf Resort in Grantham, Lincolnshire. Belton Woods are proud to have hosted numerous PGA tournaments over the years, making them one of the top golf resorts in the East Midlands.

The BA are really hoping to increase the number of female golfers participating, so any lady golfers out there, please dust off those clubs and do come and join us!

The price is just £89 per player, which includes tea/coffee and bacon rolls on arrival, 18 holes on The Lakes Course, with 11 prizes to play for (including 2 new ladies’ prizes), plus a three-course evening dinner. After dinner will be the usual presentation of the competition prizes and a charity raffle in support of Variety, The Children’s Charity.

Then on Thursday 22nd August, Carlton Bingo will be holding their

own Golf Day in aid of Variety. Their event is taking place at The Carrick Golf Course, on the beautiful banks of Loch Lomond.

Please get in touch with the BA and Carlton Bingo respectively, if you’d like to support these fantastic industry events.

➜ BA Golf Day: Sharon Salmon

Carlton Bingo Golf Day: Stephen Morrison

7 May 2024 /
News round up

National Bingo Week new name, same focus!

National Bingo Week is coming up fast, replacing the previously informal bingo awareness week, but it is still centred around around the big day - National Bingo Day. The formal name and branding of National Bingo Week follows feedback from bingo operators since the first National Bingo Day was celebrated in 2021.

National Bingo Day itself is a day dedicated to celebrating the great game of bingo, both in clubs and online. It has been formally registered in Great Britain as an official annual awareness day, taking place on 27th June each year.

The aims of National Bingo Week and National Bingo Day are to:

• Create a point of media and social activity interest.

• Encouraging land and online operators, suppliers, and bingo media to support the initiative and celebrate everything that makes bingo great (people, friendships, fun, excitement and the game/win)

• To highlight aspects that are truly special: the relevance (to ‘new’ players), fun, entertaining, social, and community (to existing players)

• Encourage new adults to re-appraise bingo, the fun and relevance and to give bingo a try, whether in venue or online

• Champion the community role of bingo, the social benefits and the charitable good delivered by bingo.

There is already an exciting and unique campaign being planned to promote the 7 days of National Bingo Week. There’s much more to follow, but highlights currently in the plan include:

27th June – National Bingo Day – Value Day

28th June – Charity Game and MP visits – all bingo clubs to raise over £20,000 on the day for Variety – The Childrens Charity with MP’s and MSP’s invited to attend and call a game 29th June – Winner’s Day

National Bingo Week is a major event in the annual calendar for the entire bingo industry, and it’s a great chance for bingo operators to use it as an opportunity to promote the wonderful game and their brilliant community clubs!

And because it’s delivered on a national scale, there will again be significant interest across social media and also the more traditional forms of media including press, radio and TV.

For more information, contact or visit the National Bingo Day website at

9 May 2024 /
National Bingo Game

BA 2024 AGM round-up

On May 9th, 2024, industry leaders gathered at London’s Hallam Conference Centre for the Bingo Association’s Annual General Meeting (AGM).

As well as completing important procedural matters for Meeron, the National Bingo Game Association (NBGA), and the BA – it was also an opportunity to do a deep dive into the world of bingo, complete with strategic insights, future forecasts, and a look at emerging technologies.

Let’s take a closer look at the key moments from the day.

Looking back, moving forward!

The formal elements of the NBGA AGM was led by Mike Sime from Mecca Bingo in his capacity as Chairman of the NBGA. The BA’s formal business session was then led by Andy Crump (also Mecca Bingo), who is the current Chairman of the BA.

Following both sessions, our CEO Miles Baron looked at the current and strategic challenges facing the industry, and offered his view of the challenges the next 12 months would bring, underscoring the importance of unity and collaboration in navigating the road ahead.

Key developments coming up in 2024/25 include:


• Meeron Games server replacement at Corsham

• Electronic Bingo Tablet Software Development re Social Responsibility

• Northern Ireland Clubs Infrastructure Investment

• Completion of remaining Fibre To The Cabinet upgrades (FTTC)

• New Meeron website

National Bingo Game Association

• NBGA Server replacement at Corsham

• Online National Bingo Game development

• New NBGA website

• National Bingo Week June 27th 2024

• National Bingo Game Caller of the Year 2024

Bingo Association

• Further consultation responses to White Paper proposals

• Further consultation responses to amendments to the Licensing Codes and Conditions of Practice (LCCP)

• Gaming Machines Technical Standards Consultation

• New Gambling Survey for Great Britain (July 24)

• Martyn’s Law

• Review of BA operations and structure

Recognising loyalty

Finally, the session gave us the opportunity to acknowledge the hard work and support of BA board member, Mike Watret (Carlton Bingo), who has taken the decision to step down from the BA’s board of directors after 12 years loyal service. On behalf of the Association, Miles presented Mike with some lovely gifts in gratitude, which included a bottle of 24-year-old single malt whisky from Mike’s “home” region of Dumfries and Galloway, and two specially engraved whiskey glasses to drink it from Following lunch, the afternoon session offered a diverse range of speakers and topics, to help our members and their guests to gain a much broader view of the outlook for businesses in the upcoming year.

With this in mind, The BA looked to provide insight to members across the regulatory, economic, customer, technological, and political landscape.

Regulator and Operator working together

Andrew Rhodes, CEO of the Gambling Commission, set the tone for the afternoon session, emphasising the importance of collaboration between regulators and operators.

He touched on the new Gambling Survey for Great Britain. ‘Better evidence and better outcomes’ are a strong theme emerging from the GC Spring Conference. He also stressed that the GC want to work very closely with operators to make sure everything works. And for this to happen, there is a need for strong data from us.

He closed by thanking the BA and the wider sector for their input so far. It’s invaluable and makes a huge difference to them as a regulator.

Grounds for economic optimism

We were also privileged to have Chris Sanger (Global Government & Risk Tax Leader) and Peter Arnold (UK Chief Economist) at Ernst & Young (EY), talk about all things past and present from an economic perspective. These

10 / May 2024
Features: BA AGM 2024 round-up

‘two big hitters’ from the corporate world always bring forecasts and statistics together in an informative and engaging way that we can all understand and appreciate.

➜ Recognising Mike Watret’s service as he steps down from the BA’s board of Directors.

(L to R): Andy Crump (BA Chairman), Mike Watret (Carlton Bingo), Miles Baron (BA CEO)

In brief, it is now apparent that the UK dipped briefly into recession last year, but the good news is that it was short-lived, and the economy is in growth. As for the future, EY are pleased to say that there is ground for optimism as inflation is decreasing, and consumers are enjoying slightly more spending power.

They touched briefly on the political outlook. It is widely considered that there will be a change of Government (probably in mid-November). The incoming Government are going to have to raise more money through taxes. And whilst we might see some “collateral damage” from this, the new Government won’t directly target gambling.

Data drives decision-making

Next, we welcomed our industry research partner, Savanta Comres, to summarise our latest Customer Tracker (Spring 24) and the trends they have seen developing over the last few years.

Since 2001, Savanta have spoken to 6,000 bingo players, so a clear and robust picture is emerging. Notable insights included increased player confidence post-pandemic and the rising popularity of social entertainment bingo among younger demographics.

Savanta therefore believe the key takeaways for “land-based” bingo in 2024 are:

• Players have confidence and trust in bingo clubs, but cost of living is still impacting.

• We should acknowledge the emergence and growth of Social Entertainment Bingo. Younger players are great at spreading the word through social media channels.

• Customers continue to be wary of over-spending with gambling. Yet in-person bingo is seen as a strong way of controlling over-spending, versus online.

Are the machines taking over?

After a short break we were delighted to introduce AGM debutant, Professor Michael Wooldridge, who is Professor of Computer Science at Oxford University. Having seen Michael wow the audience at the GC Spring Conference earlier this year, we wanted him to share his incredible insight with us.

And he did not disappoint! He captivated the room with a fascinating look at Artificial Intelligence (AI) and its implications for the industry. He underscored the potential of AI as a productivity tool, while debunking myths surrounding its capabilities. Professor Wooldridge did stress, though, that AI isn’t taking over. Instead, it will become an invaluable productivity tool, and will enable businesses, like ours, to make smart decisions based on historic data and decision making… something he referred to as “smart corporate memory”.

The landscape’s changing Next, we moved on to the political landscape with a “sideways” look by the well-known political journalist Kevin Maguire from the Daily Mirror. He always brings a light-hearted but fascinating dive into the world of Westminster.

As well as his work with the Daily Mirror, Kevin is a frequent contributor to Sky News, the BBC and ITV’s Breakfast programme.

Kevin reinforced much of the thinking that we had heard from EY earlier on, in that the election is likely to be mid-November. Yet he pulled no punches in highlighting that it will almost certainly be a Labour Government taking up residency in No.10!

He laid out that Labour will want there to be more disposable income, better services, and even gave us a prediction that the general Election would be held on the 14th November 2024!

We always welcome questions from the floor, but the lure of our drinks reception seemed to reduce the motivation for too many, and so we retired to the bar to network and digest the day’s events.

All the detail and key messages behind each presentation can be found in the Member’s Area of the BA

11 May 2024 / Features: BA AGM 2024 round-up

BJ’s Bingo Leigh steps up for Autism!

BJ’s Bingo in Leigh joined thousands of people across the UK and Ireland by walking 10,000 steps a day for eight days, raising valuable funds for autistic people and their families. The challenge was part of the seventh annual Walk for Autism campaign, beginning on March 26th, and ending on World Autism Awareness Day, April 2nd.

The money raised supports thousands of autistic individuals and funds many projects, encouraging the pursuit of specialised interests, physical activity and helping autistic adults and children to socialise in supportive communities.

Autism affects more than 700,000 people in the UK and Ireland, and the team at Walk for Autism plan to support even more projects next year. The support of BJ’s Bingo and many others like them is essential to

achieving that goal.

Walk for Autism Fundraising Manager, Liz Oakley said: “This campaign is one of the biggest events of the year… The campaign is so special to our team, as we see how much of an impact it makes every year. It really does help to improve the quality of life of the people we support.”

Walk for Autism is a campaign led by charity Autism Initiatives Group. The organisation was founded in the 1970s by Pat Minshull, a dedicated mother of a child with autism.

years ago, the charity proudly celebrated its 50th Anniversary. For more information visit

12 / May 2024 News round up
Editorial Contact us at Got a feel good story, opening or refurbishing a club, celebrating a milestone or something different?
➜ Luke, Ben, Amy, Lennon and Jenny from BJ’s Bingo Leigh

Border Bingo breaks the mould

Small independent club scoops £50,000 Jackpot!

Back in January, amid the lively atmosphere of a ‘normal’ evening session at Border Bingo, a young man in his mid-20s, joined by his family, experienced the thrill of a lifetime as all his numbers came up on the National Bingo Game, winning him the top prize of £50,000. A regular player at the club, the lucky player has opted to remain anonymous.

Commenting on his astonishing win, he said, “It’s only just starting to sink in, and I can’t wait to celebrate at the club with friends and family.”

Ryann Stisi, the proud owner of Border Bingo in Galashiels, expressed his delight at the remarkable win, emphasising the significance of it for an independent bingo club. “What a fantastic win, especially for one of the

smallest clubs in Great Britain. It just goes to show that when your numbers come up, anything can happen. I’m absolutely delighted that one of our customers has won the National Bingo Game £50,000 jackpot prize. Now, on to the next one!”

Alastair Stewart, Head of Commercial Operations at the National Bingo Game, echoed this. “We are thrilled… and we hope that the lucky player enjoys their winnings: clubs big and small can all win BIG on the National Bingo Game, and we love making winners.”

This remarkable win showcases that even in smaller independent clubs, BIG wins are possible!


Stunned Susan hits the jackpot!

ABirmingham woman who has been playing bingo for over 40 years, won a huge £50,000 jackpot at Mecca Bingo in Kingstanding in February.

The lucky winner, Susan, aged 67, scooped the jackpot while playing the National Bingo Game at the club on Kettlehouse Road, where she plays every week.

However, mum of five, Susan, was in for a real surprise when her regular evening activity unexpectedly turned into an unforgettable triumph.

Susan initially thought she had secured a more modest £1,000 prize, unaware that she had triggered the fabulous £50,000 National Game jackpot on top of the local full house prize. The jubilant applause and excitable looks from her fellow players therefore, left her rather confused.

It wasn’t until Sue Edwards, the club’s duty manager, personally approached her to check her ticket and confirm the win, that Susan realised the magnitude of her victory.

Susan commented, “When I’m playing bingo, I don’t really pay attention to how much money is up for grabs. I just love playing!’’

“I called House and thought that everyone was making a

very big fuss for a £1,000 win. I was playing with my husband who turned to me and said, ‘You’ve won the biggen’!’ but I didn’t believe him and I am still in complete shock! Even when looking at the money in my bank account, I can’t quite believe it’s there so I haven’t really thought about what to spend it on. I might treat myself to a new car!’’

Sue Edwards, duty manager at Mecca Bingo Kingstanding, said, ‘’We’re always thrilled for our winners but the £50k National Bingo Game jackpot is a real cause for celebration, especially when it’s a regular player! Susan was in complete shock when I told her. The atmosphere in the venue was electric and everyone was just so pleased for her.’’

13 May 2024 / News round up

Introducing Microbet Roulette:

Wexel Gaming’s pioneering gaming solution

Wexel Gaming has reinforced its industryleading position with the launch of Microbet Roulette, a pioneering automated roulette system designed for space-conscious gaming venues.

It builds on Wexel’s existing stable of gaming tech, standing out with a blend of compact design, cost-efficiency, and fast innovation.

Legacy of excellence and foresight

Wexel’s legacy in the gaming industry is marked by a long history of supplying automated roulette to bluechip clients such as P&O Ferries and Stena Line. These partnerships have equipped Wexel with unparalleled expertise and insight into gaming technology.

It is from here that Wexel has identified and addressed a niche in the market, for compact and efficient roulette systems across the arcade and high street bingo sectors.

Premier product offering Microbet Roulette is not merely an addition to Wexel’s product line-up; it represents the brand’s dedication to innovation and quality.

With a footprint that’s smaller than conventional offerings, Microbet Roulette is a game-changer for venues where floor space comes at a premium, and there are two versions available.

The 5-player option is designed for taking up a more centralised position in the premises. This configuration

creates a highly impactful centrepiece that will add the wow factor to any venue.

The 4-player option was developed for those premises that need to be even more creative with their space. It has been designed to sit up against a wall or partition, and the roulette wheel is shown on a wall-mounted LCD screen.

With both options, this economical use of space, paired with a highlycompetitive pricing strategy, places the product at half the price point of similar systems on the market. It exemplifies Wexel’s commitment to providing high-quality gaming solutions that are accessible to a much wider audience.

Acclaim and industry endorsements

The Microbet Roulette system has had significant praise across industry tradeshows. From ACOS in 2023 to the more recent 2024 shows at EAG and ICE, the machine has gained lots of really positive responses, leading to immediate orders and recognition from peers. Such an enthusiastic reception serves not only as a testament to the product’s impact but also validates Wexel’s strategic direction and innovation.

Pre-Stake gamble feature and competitive advantage

One of the standout features pushing Microbet Roulette to the forefront is the pre-stake gambling feature.

14 / May 2024
➜ Wexel’s recent install of Microbet Roulette at Mecca Bingo Hull
Gaming new product launch

It enhances the user experience by offering an additional layer of engagement before the traditional roulette gameplay commences, setting a new standard for interactive gaming.

And its quick implementation by Wexel has outpaced competitors, highlighting the company’s agility and focus on customer needs.

Strategic partnerships and forwardlooking businesses

The industry has taken note of Microbet Roulette’s potential, evidenced by strategic partnerships with prominent gaming companies.

Mecca Bingo, recognised for its forward-looking approach, is set to introduce Microbet Roulette. Mark Jepp, Mecca Bingo’s Slots Director, shared his enthusiasm:

“I’ve always been driven by spotting great product, and the innovation that Wexel’s Microbet Roulette brings is precisely the kind of thing I look for. As an experienced slots operator, I know

what good looks like, and this promises to add an exciting new dimension to the gaming experience for our slots customers. We’re eager to see how it performs in our clubs.”

And the introduction of Microbet Roulette at Merkur venues further enhances the product’s profile, signifying the machine’s appeal in topclass gaming spaces.

Integration capabilities

Beyond its sleek design, Microbet Roulette is technically outfitted to excel in the modern gaming space. The unit has a 10’’ Halo Touch Screen, and its dimensions are carefully engineered for player comfort without sacrificing space.

With Tito compatible printers and note acceptors, the machine is tailored for a broad spectrum of operational preferences.

And integration with Wexel’s GTab gaming tablets opens up further opportunities for expansion.

Operators can easily increase their roulette offerings, adding up to 40 play stations. This flexibility ensures that the Microbet Roulette can adapt and deliver in diverse gaming spaces.

Wexel Gaming’s Microbet Roulette demonstrates the company’s ability to innovate responsively and effectively. The product’s premier status within Wexel’s catalogue is well-earned, offering a cost-effective solution without compromising on technology or player experience.

As Microbet Roulette rolls out across gaming venues, through strategic design and an understanding of market dynamics, Wexel Gaming has once again positioned itself as a leader in gaming technology, ready to meet and exceed the expectations of a rapidly evolving market.

15 May 2024 / Find out more at Alternatively, get in touch with the team on 01482 620919 ➜
Want to stay up to date with everything that’s happening in the world of Bingo? Then pop over to our companion website Whether you’re at your desk or on the go, we’ve got you covered. It’s a ‘full house’ of information! Visit Features: Wexel Gaming new product launch

Laugh & dab! Dabbers Bingo launches comedy caller contest

In a world where laughter reigns supreme, Dabbers Social Bingo, London’s best alternative bingo hall, is on a mission to find the next big comedy sensation – and they’re doing it in style.

With a £1000 top prize courtesy of sponsors Malibu, and a 12-month contract with Dabbers up for grabs, the stakes have never been higher for aspiring comedians looking to make their mark.

The inaugural ‘Bingo Comedy Caller’ competition, set to kick off this year, promises to be a riotous affair, blending the timeless charm of bingo with the comedic skills of the UK’s finest entertainers.

Dabbers, renowned for its innovative approach to traditional bingo, has decided to shake things up by focusing exclusively on comedy for this year’s competition.

“We’ve had great success with the original ‘Next Top Caller’ competition,” says Jonny Unknown, Creative Director of Dabbers. “But we’ve found that the entrants who did best were essentially bringing their best comedic powers to the stage. So, we decided to give the competition a rebrand to better reflect both the entrants and the competition.”

The competition has attracted attention from all corners of the comedy world, with The British Comedy Guide joining as a media partner and lending their expertise to the judging panel.

From drag queens to musical comedians, Dabbers has seen it all, with past winners using their winnings to fund Edinburgh Festival shows and launch their careers to new heights. With comedy and performance at the heart of everything they do, Dabbers is committed to showcasing fresh talent and keeping their events as raucous and fun as possible. From regular nights hosted by top comics to scouting for new talent at The Edinburgh Festival, Dabbers is always on the lookout for the next big thing.

But what does it take to win the title of Dabbers Comedy Caller? According to Jonny Unknown, it’s all about having a unique comic talent and the charm to captivate an audience of bingo fans. Entrants are encouraged to submit a showreel or a short, one-minute video showcasing their style and calling out some bingo lingo to the camera.

Last year’s finalists, including stand-up comedians and character performers, brought the house down with their wit and charisma, setting the bar high for this year’s competition.

With heats scheduled to take place at Dabbers HQ in

Houndsditch EC3, contestants will have the opportunity to perform in front of a live audience and impress a judging panel comprised of industry professionals.

Unfortunately, entries are now closed (sorry – maybe next year!), and those lucky enough to make it through the heats will compete in the semi-finals in June, and then 4 contestants will battle it out at the Grand Final on Sunday 7th July for the chance to be crowned the Dabbers Comedy Caller 2024.

16 / May 2024
News round up
7 4 11 8 WE ARE HARLOW 17 Bingo Scratch Cards Break Opens Direct Mail Dabbers Raffle Tickets








Dwarf Iris














WIN a £25 Amazon voucher!

Solve our word search puzzle by finding the 20 words hidden in the grid below. Note: The words may be written in any direction including backwards and diagonally.

It’s a blooming perfect wordsearch this issue, as we ask you to find our ‘Spring Flowers’ in the Wordsearch.

All Bingo Connect Wordsearch competition entries must be received by 30th June 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 June 2024. 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.

18 / May 2024 Wordsearch S C W J V Y E M Z K L B T V M R N J I F I U F N C A L U L J E D A Q I I O C R P V U L D U D H F P L X A L O X E E I W K B U H L D S B R E N N B P A B U P I Y U R D L O T D E Y R U D R A C A W A I A V E L A F T T N O N O C L G Z Z R L Q I T T R G N S E I N O P A S T R E C F S X D Y I N E N J L M I R P Z F N I V N V T M V Q E S C H D A F F O D I L H T G H A U L D G Q S Z M A G N O L I A P O Z V L I L A C G I F W N Y C X R O Z F O R S Y T H I A C V

Gaming Machine Working Group

Bacta and the Bingo Association prepare to submit six-point Technical Standards proposal

Bacta’s Technical Standards Group headed by MERKUR UK’s Alan Claypole is working in partnership with colleagues from the Bingo Association’s Gaming Machine Working Group to produce a set of industry recommendations on enhancements to existing regulations which will enable the machines sector to remain competitive and uphold the highest standards of consumer protection.

Following discussions with the Gambling Commission, Bacta and the Bingo Association submitted a six-point plan of outline proposals to update the existing regulations at the end of April, as the precursor to a possible more fundamental review.

Bacta National President John Bollom said: “I am delighted that the

Gambling Commission has responded positively to our request to provide insight and input to the current regulations covering technical standards.

“In partnership with the Bingo Association we are drawing up a concise six-point plan to update those areas where we believe that changes could be explored whilst always upholding our unswerving commitment to safer gambling.

“The focus of the Technical Standards Group led by Alan Claypole is to supply the Commission with a set of proposals which are realistic, pragmatic and deliverable, all set against a robust commitment to deliver a safe gambling entertainment experience for players.

“I am delighted that the industry has been given the opportunity to present our thoughts which I believe represents a solid acknowledgement of

our reputation as a source of technical insight and expertise.

“Addressing technical standards will enable the industry to continue to engage responsibly with consumers in what is an increasingly competitive and blended land-based/online environment.”

Miles Baron, CEO Bingo Association added: “It makes sense for the Bingo Association to be working closely with Bacta in the area of Gaming Machine Technical Standards, where we have much in common, and we are grateful to Alan for his work to date on this proposal.”

£89 per player

Belton Woods Hotel, Spa & Golf Resort in Grantham

The price includes tea/coffee and bacon rolls on arrival, 18 holes on The Lakes Course and a three-course evening dinner.

To just join us for the 3-course evening dinner - only £35pp.

For more information and to book (by 6th June) please contact

19 May 2024 /
News round up Dust off your golf clubs for Variety! Join us at our
Charity Golf
and Dinner on Thursday 20th

Boot scootin’ bingo!

Mecca Bingo offers free line dancing classes, so players can celebrate winning lines by dancing lines!

‘Cowboy Core’ has firmly made it onto this year’s bingo card. With A-list country-inspired albums reaching number one in the charts, country music headlining at this year’s Glastonbury festival and cowboy themed fashion dominating the catwalks, the UK’s obsession with the Wild West is well and truly gathering pace.

And Mecca Bingo is do si do’ing into the Cowboy Core trend by offering free line dancing classes, so bingo loving Brits can celebrate winning lines by dancing lines.

Combining the essence of the Wild West and the joy of bingo, Mecca Bingo’s ‘Line To Win’ dance classes come as almost a third (32%) of the nation reveal that they’re eager to get their Cowboy Core fix this year - with 59% seeking out live country music performances, western inspired fashion items (44%) and line dancing classes (38%) themselves.

Mecca’s ‘Line To Win’ dance sessions are guaranteed to get toes tapping, led by top-notch line dancing instructors in between high-stake bingo games. To snap up a session, all Cowboy Core seekers need to do is book their free class at Mecca Bingo clubs in Hamilton, Luton, Swansea, Hartlepool and Wakefield.

Only 15% of UK residents strongly agreed they were a fan

of Country and Western culture before this year, yet Mecca Bingo now reports that Google search demand for ‘line dancing’ has risen a staggering 129% since the start of 2024. Searches for stetsons and country music have also risen by 29% respectively. So, dust off those cowboy boots and get ready to two-step your way to success.

Sarah O’Neill, head of innovation at Mecca Bingo said: “Cowboy Core is booming - it may not be its first rodeo, but we’ve seen the trend gaining more traction on the catwalks, with fashionistas everywhere donning fringed accessories and cowboy boots. Country music is being cited as a major influence and being streamed more than ever and we’re even seeing cowboy style creeping into home decor.

“We’re excited to bring the worlds of bingo and country and western together in our clubs with our ‘Line to Win’ line dancing classes”.

20 / May 2024
News round up

Mecca Bingo sponsor ITV’s Loose Women

Viewers of ITV’s Loose Women may be familiar with Mecca Bingo’s new advertising bumper breaks, featuring a group of friends and their cockerpoo dog.

The brand has been the lead sponsor of ITV’s popular, multi award-winning panel show, since the start of this year, with idents showing either side of each advert break. The campaign is running on both live ITV channels and ITVX catch up and shows a living room of Mecca’s own fun-loving ‘Loose Women’, giving their own unique take on traditional bingo calls.

Prior to the lead sponsorship, Mecca was the official bingo partner of the show, and launched an exclusive Loose Women themed online bingo game last year. The game has a unique jackpot, offering players additional chances to win big prizes as well as the popular ‘Bingo Bestie’ feature,

which pairs players up to increase their chances of winning. Stewart MacKay, director of acquisition for MeccaBingo. com, commented on the sponsorship: “We’re delighted to be headline sponsors of such an iconic show. Just like the Loose Women panellists, our customers love to keep up with current trends and news, so the opportunity to become headline sponsor was a natural progression of our existing partnership. The opportunities this new campaign presents have enabled us to reach a significant audience across multiple touchpoints, including social media channels.”

21 May 2024 / News round up

Shadow Minister visits Buzz Bingo

Shadow Minister for Media, Gambling and Sport, Stephanie Peacock MP visited Buzz Bingo Barnsley on Thursday 21st March.

Peacock has held the role since September 2023 and will be an increasingly important stakeholder for the industry as we approach the General Election.

Stephanie met with customers and employees and took control of calling

a game (see photo). The visit covered a range of matters including the club’s role in the community, providing a safe, social environment.

More widely, the Bingo Association took the opportunity to discuss employee numbers, and our views on the White Paper, including what a

future Government can do to support bingo to modernise and grow.

The BA will continue to work closely with Stephanie and her team to ensure she remains fully informed and supportive of land-based bingo into the future.

Buzz Bingo Borehamwood is having a glow up!

Buzz Bingo has confirmed its Borehamwood club at The Point on Shenley Road will be moving into the vacant Prezzo unit on the same road in the coming months. Regular players and fans won’t have to travel far to enjoy the new and improved club. It’s fair to say that it will be better than ever.

As well as a new location, it’s having a major glow up too. Members can expect a fresh modern atmosphere with stylish décor and comfy new seating in a more contemporary, state-of-the-art ‘bingo lounge’ layout.

The Slots Room will feature the latest fun games and slot machines topped off

with a new menu including a delicious range of paninis and halloumi fries.

Dinesh Pandithurai, General Manager at Buzz Bingo Borehamwood, said:

“We’re so excited to bring our amazing community the bingo they know and love with added sparkle.

“It’s going to bring a much more modern vibe to bingo and the new location is just over the road from where we are currently.

“We can’t wait and will be keeping our members updated as their new club comes to life.”

Buzz Bingo Borehamwood members will continue to play at the existing club until the new location opens in Summer 2024.

22 / May 2024 News round up
➜ Stephanie Peacock MP calls a game (pictured alongside Ian Wolfenden from Buzz Barnsley)

Buzz Bingo colleagues join #TeamStroke

Whether it’s walking, running, gaming or something completely unique, Buzz Bingo’s colleague community are uniting to help raise vital awareness and funds for their official charity partner, Stroke Association.

Buzz Bingo is in year two of a three-year partnership with the charity, who are on a joint mission to help rebuild lives after stroke, one dab at a time. Together they want to help tackle the social isolation and loneliness experienced by many stroke survivors.

For Stroke Awareness Month in May, Clubs and support colleagues will be doing individual challenges, or gathering together to start group fundraisers.

Teams across Buzz will be taking on lots of activities, including walking a marathon, cycling, dance-a-thons, and much more!

Mark Fletcher, Head of Brand Communications at Buzz Bingo (pictured alongside) is donning his running shoes and preparing to run a marathon for Stroke Association later in the year.

“May is such an important month – we’ll be having tons of fun whilst raising cash for Stroke, as well as playing charity bingo games and launching our brand-new exclusive purple and yellow dabbers.

And May is when my mileage starts

to ramp up, with around 200 miles on my training plan between the bank holidays alone!”

23 May 2024 / News round up
Promote your products and services Email from as little as £165 per issue

A ‘tool kit of solutions’ Boomerang’s industry launch at the EAG Bingo Hub

A matter of weeks after launch, Boomerang Digital took centre stage at EAG with operators keen to learn more about the strategy driving the industry’s newest and brightest tech brand.

Described as a ‘tool kit’ of innovations, the Boomerang portfolio comprised across the board solutions for all sectors with a particular emphasis on Bingo.

The versatility of the Jigsaw Entertainment System has led to volume orders across Bingo, AGC, Pub, Social Clubs, Holiday Parks and Casinos. Director of Sales, Freddie Shreeve explained: “2023 was an outstanding year for Jigsaw with operators utilising it as a ‘one-stop’ entertainment hub for the delivery of a variety of promotional activities.

“The flexible content package can include Bingo and Games, Music and even Digital Signage, all of which are powerful promotional and customer engagement tools. It combines everything required to entertain consumers in one slick, streamlined and easy to use package.”

Bingo Extra is the latest iteration of Bingo Express, which in 2023 paid out more than £1.1m in prizes to over 127,000 players and following the introduction of the National Bingo Game now offers cash jackpots of up to £50,000.

Housed in a high impact illuminated cabinet Bingo Extra has doubled its capacity and can charge up to 40-tablets.

Reflecting on the annual industry showcase, Freddie Shreeve noted: “EAG was a fantastic opportunity for Boomerang to really make an impression. I think operators were surprised at the substance of the brand which has brought some very significant innovators together under the one umbrella.”

Amongst a long list of landmarks Boomerang has fast approaching 1,000 installed entertainment systems, has membership platforms operating in 400+ venues, boasts more than 500,000 mobile app subscribers and delivers more than 35million SMS messages on behalf of customers every single year.

These figures and many more like them reflect an agile, dynamic business which is constantly searching for new ways to help its customers utilising smart, technology-led solutions.

24 / May 2024
email or visit ➜ Features: Boomerang’s industry launch
find out more please call 01482 441142,

SmartHub confirms its status as the industry’s favourite selfexclusion solution

Boomerang Digital has announced another key business win, with confirmation that its market leading SmartHub self-exclusion solution has been officially adopted by SENSE, the Self Enrolment National Self Exclusion initiative for the UK casino sector.

Going live in March, this means that SmartHub is now being used in 2,000 venues every day, including 100% of the UK’s licensed Bingo Clubs, all the country’s Motorway Service Areas, and 7 out of 10 Adult Gaming Centres.

Boomerang Digital’s Howard Gant said: “SmartHub has been on a journey which has seen it demonstrate its effectiveness over an eight-year period and as a result become the UKs only multi-sector land based self-exclusion solution.”

He added: “Whilst SmartEXCLUSION is the flagship solution in the SmartHub portfolio, Boomerang also offers a range of digital solutions to enable operators to keep logs of incidents, customer interactions, age challenges, AML incidences, accidents and daily checks.”

The Hub, which last year helped process close to 10,000 self-exclusions, record more than 16,000 Check-25 challenges, and conduct 65,000 customer interactions enables operators to review all their logs and collate information for regulatory returns in seconds, and to generally manage their businesses more effectively.

Devices can be purchased pre-loaded with the software and locked down to ensure the Special Category Data collected during a self-exclusion isn’t compromised.

SmartHub which is available in iOS and Android has earned a reputation for being the essential self-exclusion

tool for all land-based operators across every gaming sector. Andrew Ludlow, co-founder, and CEO of Boomerang Digital noted: “2024 will see giant leaps forward in self-exclusion delivery. We have an exciting and ambitious road map to deliver into each sector which will ease the burden on operators, give the excluder more tools and demonstrate our commitment to compliance operation solutions.”

➜ To find out more please call 01482 441142, email or visit

25 May 2024 /
Got a job vacancy you need to fill? Email Reach the whole of the bingo industry
Features: Boomerang’s industry launch

Club 3000 Cardiff unveils £3 million makeover!

Club 3000, an established bingo business in Cardiff’s community for the past 16 years, recently delighted customers with a spectacular grand re-opening following an incredible £3 million investment in a state-of-the-art refurbishment.

Despite undergoing extensive renovations, the club remained operational, with the team extending heartfelt gratitude to loyal customers for their unwavering support and patience during the transformation.

As the largest independent bingo operator in the UK, boasting 24 clubs nationwide, Club 3000 Bingo spared no expense in revamping its Cardiff venue to offer an unparalleled gaming experience. The makeover includes upgrades such as new carpets, seats, tables, and a comprehensive redecoration, alongside notable additions, including an enclosed Bingo Bar and Diner, revamped book sales, and an upgraded Slots area.

The grand re-opening, which took place on Sunday, April 28, 2024, marked an evening of unforgettable festivities.

Attendees enjoyed a vibrant celebration and had the chance to win big, as Club 3000 awarded four £3,000 Houses, offering the largest prize money in Wales to mark the occasion.

Stephen Pidgeon, Head of Operations at Club 3000 Bingo, expressed his excitement over the investment, emphasising the club’s commitment to providing unparalleled bingo experiences. “We are delighted to have invested in the club so that our customers have the best bingo experience ever. The new additions and improved environment will give our customers an even more enhanced bingo experience. I can’t wait to welcome our customers in!”.

With its lavish makeover and commitment to delivering top-notch entertainment and customer service, Club 3000 Cardiff is poised to set new standards for excellence in Wales.

26 / May 2024 News round up

Greenock’s bingo bonanza

Scotland’s luckiest club!

Club 3000 Bingo in Greenock continues its winning streak as yet another lucky player bags a whopping £50,000 jackpot, adding to the club’s reputation as the luckiest in Scotland.

Early January saw yet another jubilant celebration at Club 3000 Bingo in Greenock, as a local bingo player clinched the life-changing £50,000 jackpot during the National Bingo Game. With this win, the club has now witnessed five significant jackpot victories over the past few years, solidifying its status as Scotland’s luckiest bingo hotspot.

The fortunate winner, who prefers to remain anonymous, has been a regular player at Club 3000 Bingo for several years. They were overjoyed as their winning numbers were called, marking a momentous occasion in the club’s history.

In the past year alone, Club 3000 in Greenock has paid over £2 million in prize money, a testament to its commitment to providing great entertainment and the chance of life-changing winnings to its loyal customers.

Gerry Chisholm, the Manager of Club 3000 in Greenock, expressed his excitement over the latest jackpot triumph:

“A New Year and yet another new £50,000 jackpot for the club! This is now our 5th big jackpot win over the last couple of years and the fourth since I have been here, we certainly have a lucky streak in our club making it the luckiest club in the whole of Scotland. If you are feeling lucky it is the place to be and a great night out too!”

With its remarkable track record of big wins and vibrant atmosphere, Club 3000 in Greenock remains a top destination for bingo enthusiasts seeking thrilling gameplay and the chance to get lucky. As the jackpot winnings continue to roll in, the club cements its reputation as a haven for luck and excitement in the heart of its community, and Scotland.

Oliver Fraser steps up at Club 3000

Club 3000 Bingo are delighted to announce that

Oliver will be responsible for all areas of Company development across their nationwide estate of 24 clubs. He started his new role at the beginning of April 2024. Oliver, who is now 24 years of age, became the youngest GM in the bingo industry when he took over Club 3000 Bingo Kilmarnock in August 2022, aged just 22.

Oliver Fraser said: “I am deeply honoured and excited to have been entrusted with this position. Over the past six years, I have dedicated myself to the Bingo industry, weathering its toughest challenges first-hand. Despite these circumstances, Club 3000 has shown resilience and growth during this time.

I am looking forward to contributing to our continued success by providing our patrons with an exceptional Bingo experience and ensuring our staff thrive in the best possible working environments within our sector. This is such an exciting time for the Company, and I am grateful for the opportunity to be a part of shaping its future.”

27 May 2024 / News round up
Oliver Fraser, current GM of their Kilmarnock Club has been promoted to the position of Development Director.

Features: Duncan Bain’s bingo journey

Duncan Bain: Celebrating a 47 year life in bingo on his retirement!


Duncan as a young Assistant Manager at The Capitol in Leith


Duncan at Coral Social Club

Coventry Savoy with Jez Fearn and Kevin Plowman.


Top Rank Edinburgh. Roy Orbison tribute act, though he ran an Ice Cream competition that week as well...anything to get more sales!


Duncan is GM at Worcester. The club was purchased from Zetters by Coral Social Clubs and had a refurbishment.


Coventry Savoy (L to R): Peter Williams, Dirty Den from Eastenders (aka Leslie Grantham), Duncan Bain, Amerjit Sandhu.

Duncan’s bingo journey –1977 to 2024

• Top Rank South Shields

• Top Rank Edinburgh (The Capitol)

• Coral Torquay

• Coral Wanstead (East London)

• Coral Longton (Stoke-on-Trent)

• Coral Chelmsley Wood (Birmingham)

• Coral Coventry (Radford Road)

• Coral MKE Milton Keynes (The Point)

• Coral Worcester

• Coral/Gala Dundee

• Gala Aberdeen

• Gala Glenrothes

• Gala Wester Hailes

• Gala Meadowbank

• Gala Irvine

• Gala Meadowbank

• Gala Coatbridge

• Gala Falkirk

• Gala Glenrothes

• Phased retirement as support to:

- Buzz Bingo R1

- Buzz Falkirk

- Buzz Meadowbank

- Buzz Dundee

- Buzz Motherwell


Duncan and his management team on the opening of Gala Bingo Dundee.


The Launch of Gala’s Wester Hailes club in Edinburgh. Duncan Bain right


Duncan and his team of “Yellow Coats”.


Duncan with some “old” bingo friends at Club 3000 Blackpool.


Duncan’s retirement party in Edinburgh, April 2024

Life and career in brief

• Born in Swansea, Wales. Brought up in Edinburgh from the age of 2.

• Left school at 15 and joined the Scots Guards. Served 7 years, but in an age of no diversity ethos, decided to leave.

• In 1977 he responded to an advert for Top Rank Clubs (now Mecca). He thought he was being interviewed as a night club manager, but on arrival discovered it was in fact a Bingo Hall. Starting salary £2,400 pa!

• 2 years at Top Rank Bingo, then in 1979 to Coral/Gala/Buzz Bingo.

• Duncan took many opportunities to develop his career by relocating. His partner of 46 years worked on the gas rigs, which meant he could relocate frequently and not be tied down to one location.

• He achieved many awards and accolades, including trips all over the world.

• Career highlights included opening new build clubs at Milton Keynes, Dundee and Wester Hailes, and acquisition clubs including Zetters to Coral Worcester, Ind Beachcomber to Gala Irvine, and County to Gala Coatbridge.

• Duncan’s main hobby is dog exhibiting (Show Dogs). He is Chairperson of the Airedale Terrier Club of Scotland, taking part in competitions and is a committee member of various canine show societies.

• His family were bingo players – his mother being an avid fan of Gala/Buzz Fenton in Stoke-on-Trent. Although there were only 3 people present to say goodbye to her, a large wreath was there from all the team at Fenton.

• In April 2024, friends and colleagues gathered in Edinburgh for Duncan’s retirement bash, where there was live music and drinks aplenty!

• Duncan has now settled in Kirknewton, West Lothian - a rural village in Central Scotland.

Duncan Bain’s bingo journey

We are Harlow –proud to partner Park Holidays UK!

What a wonderful time we had at the EAG show! The team at Harlow printing would like to say thank you to all our customers who came to see us, and all the new faces we met.

This was our first time exhibiting at the show and it was a huge success!

Since the EAG show we have formed many new relationships and are now the proud Bingo ticket providers for Park Holidays UK! With some invaluable help from our friends at Willow Communications, we worked very closely with Jay Muzzell , Head of EPOS, AV & Security at Park Holidays UK, to make sure all their Bingo books were designed and launched in good time for the new season.

Jay and his team invited us to the launch of the books, alongside their Entertainment Crew at one of the holiday parks in Essex. Gary (the Guru) Wright, and Sales manager Andrew Pettit were there to meet the Entertainment Crew and had a great time seeing how much work and effort goes on behind the scenes, even before holiday season begins!

If you’re looking to redesign your bingo tickets to make them stand out a little more, or wish to change the format, the team at Harlow are very happy to offer all aspects, including our in-house Maths Team, who can help with the permutations needed.

30 / May 2024
News round up We
have Sales Executives in all areas of the UK and are happy to visit you on site - so please get in touch with us on 0191 455 4286, email, or
In Profile Contact us at Get in touch if you would like to feature in our ‘In Profile’ section, or know someone who you think would make a great profile
➜ From L to R: Andrew Pettit (Harlow Printing), Jay Muzzell (Park Holidays) and Gary ‘the guru’ Wright (Harlow Printing)

In profile: Anthony Cockburn

The legacy lives on

In the heart of Forest Hall, Newcastle, lies a gem cherished by locals for decades: The Ritz Bingo. It’s a community hub, a tradition, and a testament to the dedication of one man – Christopher Clavering.

Anthony Cockburn, the new owner of The Ritz, embodies the spirit of continuity and respect for heritage. His journey from studying architecture to becoming the owner of a bingo club is a testament to the unpredictable twists and turns of life.

“I’ll start with my bingo career at the age of 16,” Anthony reminisces. “It was just part-time income while I was at college doing a feeder course for a degree.”

His entry into the world of bingo was serendipitous, a phone call from a friend leading him to his first job at a bingo hall. Little did he know then that it would mark the beginning of a lifelong journey.

“I continued with my studies for a year,” Anthony explains, “but personal circumstances led me to drop out of college.” Nevertheless, fate had other plans for him. A traineeship with the Mason Organisation propelled his career forward, exposing him to the intricacies of managing bingo clubs.

Over the years, Anthony’s path intertwined with various bingo companies, each experience shaping his expertise and deepening his love for the game. In 2019 after 22 years in the industry, Anthony decided to take a different career path, then out of the blue, a fortuitous encounter with a bingo legend came along, that would change his life – Christopher Clavering.

“Chris was a bit of a legend in the Northeast,” Anthony recalls. “Everyone knew him – particularly in bingo.”

Chris’s legacy loomed large over The Ritz, a beacon of tradition and community. So when Chris extended an offer to Anthony to join him in running the club, it reignited Anthony’s passion for bingo.

“Chris and I spoke about my 20 years in bingo, and he spoke about his 50 years!” Anthony reflects. “And we just

seemed to hit it off.”

“He eventually asked if I was going to come and work for him,” Anthony recalls. “I eventually gave in and agreed. I was back in bingo!”

Under Chris’s mentorship, Anthony found renewed purpose. The club flourished under their shared vision, with Chris nurturing its growth while “secretly” preparing Anthony for a significant role.

Anthony recalls, “One day he handed his keys to me as he said he wasn’t well, and just asked me to keep things going. The weekend came and went, and he wasn’t around much, which was highly unusual.

“The following week, he called me and said he needed to see me. It was then that he admitted he wasn’t well.

“It was at this point that he offered for me to take over the club and become the new owner. He wanted the club to keep going, and for it to be mine. I was shocked.

“He’d mentioned me taking over the club in the past, on numerous occasions, but I guess I hadn’t taken it seriously.”

The legal process started, and the solicitors got to work to ensure a smooth handover. “Chris was obviously getting more and more frail”, Anthony recalls, “and he did everything in his power to get the deal over the line. He called me soon after our solicitors exchanged the contracts, and said, “well, you now own a bingo club!” He was so happy for me”.

Anthony assumed ownership of The Ritz, a responsibility he embraces with humility and reverence. “I thanked him, and he said that it was him that should be thanking me. I was ensuring that his beloved club and legacy was to carry on.”

One week later, Chris passed away. His sudden departure left a void in the hearts of staff and customers alike, a testament to the profound impact he

had on the community. “It was a massive shock to everyone.”

In the wake of Chris’s passing, Anthony remains steadfast in his commitment to honouring Chris’s legacy. “It’s about keeping his legacy going… It was a promise, and I don’t need to change it.”

As Anthony looks to the future, he envisions the continuation of Chris’s vision – a traditional bingo club rooted in community. “For me, it’s about keeping Chris’s memory alive. I feel so fortunate that it was me he chose to continue the business at The Ritz.”

Chris’s clandestine battle with illness adds a poignant layer to the story, underscoring the urgency with which he sought to secure the club’s future. “He admitted he wasn’t a well man,” Anthony recalls, “He wanted the club to be in safe hands before he passed.”

One thing remains certain – the story of Anthony Cockburn and The Ritz is far from over. It’s a story of resilience, camaraderie, and the enduring power of community.

And amidst the fun and vibrant energy of the bingo, Chris Clavering’s spirit lives on.

31 May 2024 /

From funtrepreneur to bingo saviour!

In the world of entrepreneurship, there are those who simply start businesses, and then there are those who bring a unique brand of excitement and enthusiasm. Kevin McGinnigle belongs to the latter category, proudly dubbing himself a “Funtrepreneur” on Linkedin, for his unwavering commitment to injecting fun into every aspect of his business life.

With a career marked by a series of successful ventures, Kevin has established himself as a visionary leader with a knack for spotting opportunities where others see challenges.

From his early days as a start-up enthusiast, to the recent acquisition of Majestic Bingo, Kevin’s journey is a testament to resilience and innovation.

It all started in the early hours! Kevin’s journey as an entrepreneur has been nothing short of extraordinary.

“My first step into the world of Bingo was online as a Bingo chat host… I found a job at around half one in the morning on the Job Centre website – I’m probably on page 26 at this point. And I was like, ‘Yeah, fancy a bit of that, working from home? Yes please!’”

His early experiences in the online Bingo world ignited a passion for creating memorable experiences and fostering community connections. “I really liked it, talking to the customers, seeing what they’re up to, wanting to do a bit more for them,” Kevin recalls.

His journey led him to Love Your Bingo, a white-label operator with a fresh approach to customer engagement. “It was very communitybased and very personal,” Kevin reflects.

He played a crucial role in scaling the business from one brand to over

150, collaborating with a diverse range of operators in the online gaming space.

“Over the course of seven or eight years I went from Bingo Chat host to doing just about every single role in the business… all the way up to Operations Director.”

But Kevin’s spirit didn’t stop there. About five years ago, he embarked on a new venture with the development of an interactive gameshow platform, trademarked as iGamshow™ technology!, that’s set to go live later this year.

“We decided to set up a marketing company to help generate revenue to build the tech. We literally just went out to people to see if we could offer our experience to others in the gaming and entertainment space,” Kevin explains. “Helping them with any challenges they’ve got whether it was retention, acquisition, website builds, landing pages, and so on.” This initiative not only showcased Kevin’s versatility as

an entrepreneur but also laid the groundwork for future success.

During this time, Kevin’s marketing company acquired Majestic Bingo as a partner for about three years. Through this partnership, Kevin gained valuable insights into the inner workings of the retail bingo industry and developed a deep appreciation for the Majestic brand.

So, when news of Majestic Bingo’s administration surfaced, Kevin was well acquainted with the business and recognised an opportunity to leverage his expertise and passion to breathe new life into the company.

And with a bold vision and a team of like-minded and hugely supportive investors, Kevin embarked on a mission to save Majestic and reignite the joy of bingo for players old and new.

32 / May 2024 In profile: Kevin McGinnigle

Majestic becomes real fun! Fast forward to the present, and Kevin finds himself at the helm of Real Fun Group, the company that acquired Majestic Bingo, a well-known and respected brand that faced financial difficulties and was at risk of closure.

“When I heard that Majestic was entering administration, it was a case of, ‘Do we think we can have a go at this?’” Kevin recounts. “Yes, we think we can!”

Real Fun Group Limited was founded on the principle of ‘putting the fun back into bingo across the country, one club at a time’. It’s backed by experienced entrepreneurs in the retail, leisure, bingo, gaming, and hospitality sectors. And their vision is simple; ensure colleagues and customers are having a real fun time!

“We wanted to create a buzz, and connect with our customers in a meaningful way,” Kevin explains. “So, we decided to personally introduce ourselves to the players and show them that we’re here to make their bingo experience even more enjoyable.”

The response to “Meet the Owner” exceeded all expectations, generating a wave of excitement and engagement in the club. “If you look at Donnington’s Facebook posts, the reaction was unbelievable,” Kevin recalls with enthusiasm. “The club has seen a significant increase in admissions since then, and more and more people are coming back week after week. It’s a great club and those running it there are simply awesome.

Since acquiring Majestic, Kevin has implemented a series of innovative initiatives aimed at embedding this into every aspect of the business. One such initiative was the recent “Meet the Owner” promotion held at their Donnington bingo club.

The customers love the team.”

The success of the event served as a testament to Kevin’s commitment to creating memorable and immersive experiences for his customers.

But Kevin’s dedication to fun doesn’t stop there. He and his team have introduced a variety of other initiatives aimed at enhancing the bingo experience and fostering a sense of community among players. From exclusive promotions to events, every aspect of Real Fun Group is infused with a philosophy of fun.

And the results speak for themselves. The business has experienced a resurgence in popularity, with players returning to their local clubs. “The feedback from the customers has been unbelievable,” Kevin says proudly. “Every club you go to, they are so appreciative of the

fact that the club is sticking around and continuing to serve their communities.”

As Kevin continues to lead Real Fun Group into the future, he remains steadfast in his belief that fun is the key to success in the gaming industry. “At the end of the day, we’re in the business of fun… And if we can’t have fun doing it, then what’s the point?”

Roadmap to the Future

Looking ahead, Kevin is excited about the possibilities that lie ahead in bingo, and the broader gaming and entertainment industry.

“We’ve got a roadmap longer than the trip from Tyne Dock to Camborne and back” Kevin shares. “But whether we get round to it all, who knows?”.

With a clear focus on investing in the customer experience and exploring new avenues for growth, Kevin is confident that Real Fun Group will continue to thrive.

And as he reflects on his journey, he is grateful for the support and opportunities that have moved him forward. “I think one thing to note is how incredibly fortunate we were that we had the full support of the previous Majestic management team, in particular their former MD, Mark Jepp. Given everything, he had gone through, he was very supportive of us.”

So, with a talented and dedicated team by his side, and a commitment to excellence, Kevin is poised to write the next chapter of success for Real Fun Group and beyond.

33 May 2024 / In profile: Kevin McGinnigle

Spring Budget 2024:

Relief or disappointment on the fiscal roller-coaster?

Another good Budget (honest!)

The Budget can be a bit of a roller-coaster ride for the Bingo industry. We climb into the process and buckle our seat belt (sending the industry’s Budget Submission to the Chancellor). As the creaky chain pulls us up the steep slope, the thought crosses our mind that this could all end badly (there are always people out there arguing that gambling taxes should be increased). Then down we go, hoping for the best as the Budget speech hurtles on (full of jokes and rabbits), until we pull up on the other side safe and sound (with no punitive increases in our taxes). In recent years, though the industry may not have enjoyed the ride, it has always had a good outcome, avoiding the dreaded “Budget losers” tag. The Spring Budget 2024 followed that comforting pattern and could be classified as a Good Budget for Bingo.

However, there is a lingering feeling that it could have been even better. Traditionally a pre-election Budget is one where the Chancellor is willing to cut loose and throw some money around. In that context, a reduction in Bingo Duty may have provided a crowd-pleasing and inexpensive (to the Treasury) intervention. So why did the Chancellor pass up on the opportunity?

A pre-election build-up

In the build-up to the Budget, gallons of ink and forests of newsprint (or their digital equivalents) were taken up with speculation about the kind of pre-election give-aways that Jeremy Hunt might be tempted to offer. It was recognised that the Chancellor didn’t have a huge (by his standards) amount of money to play with, but history tells us that that’s not always a deterrent to Chancellors heading toward an election.

By the time Hunt stood up, the front runners in the tax cut speculation stakes were a cut in income tax, which would benefit a lot of people and be easily understood, or the abolition of inheritance tax, which helps fewer taxpayers but would tackle a measure frequently seen as a deeply unpopular and ‘unfair’ tax.

Not just a give-away

In the event, we had something more complicated than a simple give-away Budget. While, in aggregate, the Budget was a net tax cut, it actually contained more tax raising measures than tax cutting measures. And the overall effect did little to rein in the historically high tax burden.

Some you win…

The headline-grabbing tax cut was the two-percentage point reduction on employee’s National Insurance contributions. At a cost of £10bn per annum (or roughly the price tag for inheritance tax abolition) the Chancellor established a clear link between personal tax cuts and work incentives. By way of example, employees earning £25,000 per annum will see their monthly National Insurance contributions fall by just over £20, on top of the same reduction from the Autumn Statement.

More limited tax cuts came through changes to the HighIncome Child Benefit Charge. This addresses the distortion where a couple with one person earning £60,000 receives no Child Benefit, but a couple where both earn £50,000 receives the full benefit.

And, of course, in a Budget perennial, the Chancellor pocketed credit for freezing fuel duty (as every Chancellor has done since 2011).

34 / May 2024
Expert insights: Economic update from EY

On the business front, the winners were clustered in the creative industries with a new 53% rate for Audio-Visual Expenditure Credit, alongside measures removing the 80% qualifying cap for visual effects tax relief, business rates relief for English film studios, and making permanent the relief for orchestras, theatres, museums and galleries.

We also saw an increase in the VAT registration threshold, taking it to £90,000, but still leaving it well below the £107,000 level it would have reached if it had been increased with inflation since 2017. This extra £5,000 is intended to help those VAT-registered businesses that are knocking up against the current limit.

…some you lose

The main losers from the measures announced on 6 March were likely to be non-domiciled residents of the UK who saw the announced abolition of a preferential tax regime, and energy producers who saw a potential extension of the Energy Profits Levy by a further year to March 2029. Other increases included the abolition of Multiple Dwellings Relief for stamp duty land tax, a rise in Air Passenger Duty on non-economy fares, the introduction of a new duty on Vapes, and a corresponding increase in tobacco duty. There was also the abolition of the preferential tax treatment of Furnished Holiday Lets, in response to criticism

that it was leading to an increase in properties being used for short term lets rather than being available as homes or for long-term rental.

And for Bingo?

As we said at the start, this was a Good Budget for Bingo. The roller coaster didn’t make the industry too queasy. But it could have been better. It looks like there may be another chance for this at a pre-election Budget, with expectations that the Chancellor may feel the need to once again start up the roller coaster in the early Autumn. By that point, he may be able to assess whether voters will enter poling stations with his National Insurance cuts fresh in their memories or if he may require a fresh simpler and eye-catching measure. Hold onto your seats.

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.

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Shaping policy. Developing business. Driving the industry agenda.

35 May 2024 / Expert insights: Economic update from EY

Expert insights: Employment update from Taylor Walton

New rules on holiday pay and entitlement for casual workers

Changes to holiday rules in the Working Time Regulations 1998 (the Regulations) came into force on 1 January 2024.

Whilst many of the changes to the Regulations are aimed at preserving holiday rights derived from European law following Brexit, significant changes have also been made to holiday rights and pay for workers who do not have regular working hours, or only work for part of the holiday year, such as term time workers. In this article we discuss the changes affecting these workers.

The changes in this area have been made to address the difficulties faced by employers in calculating holiday entitlement and pay for these workers, an issue that was highlighted in the recent case of Brazel v The Harpur Trust. In that case, a teacher who worked part time for only part of the year was entitled to proportionately more holiday entitlement than her full time colleagues who worked throughout the year due to the manner in which the Regulations applied to this type of working arrangement. The new rules are make holiday calculations for these types of workers fairer and more straightforward.

The Government has issued detailed guidance on how the new rules will apply. Please visit, search for ‘Holiday pay and entitlement reforms from 1 January 2024’ and scroll down to section 3.

Who do the new rules apply to?

The new rules apply to:

Irregular-hours workers – A worker’s hours will be irregular if, in that holiday year, the number of paid hours that they work in each pay period (during the term of their contract) is wholly or mostly variable for example, casual employees, such as those on zero hours contracts in the hospitality sector.

Part-year workers – A part-year worker is required to work only part of the year and there are periods within that year (during the term of the contract) of at least a week they are not required to work and are not paid.

This may include seasonal workers and some term time only workers.

Employers will need to consider carefully if their workers fall within these new definitions. Applying the new rules to workers who do not meet these definitions may lead to shortfalls in holiday entitlement and pay.

When will the changes come into effect?

The changes to the holiday rules for part year and irregular hours workers will apply to holiday years starting on or after 1 April 2025. This means that if the holiday year commenced, for example, on 1 January 2024, the new rules would not apply until the holiday year commencing on 1

January 2025. The existing rules on holiday entitlement will continue to apply until the relevant holiday year. Applying the new rules earlier than the correct date could lead to shortfalls in holiday entitlement and pay for affected workers. Employers should consider taking advice on the risks of applying the rules early before making a decision to do so.

Calculating holiday entitlement under the new rules

Once the worker falls within the definition of irregular hours or part year worker, they are exempt from the normal holiday pay rules which provide that a worker is entitled to 5.6 weeks’ holiday per year and to be paid a week’s pay for each week. The worker will instead be subject to the new rules.

Holiday entitlement shall be calculated in hours rather than weeks and will accrue on the last day of each pay period at the rate of 12.07% of hours worked in that pay period. Fractions of hours are rounded down

36 / May 2024
“The new rules are make holiday calculations for these types of workers fairer and more straightforward.”

How does holiday pay work under the new rules?

Employers will be able to choose from two systems of holiday pay under the new rules:

• They can pay holiday pay when holiday is taken, calculated at the rate of a week’s pay for each week’s holiday. This is an average of total pay over 52 weeks (disregarding weeks where the worker did not work or was on statutory or sick leave)

• Alternatively, they may choose to pay rolled-up holiday pay. Rolled up holiday pay under the new rules is an uplift of 12.07% to the worker’s remuneration for work done in each pay period.

Where rolled up holiday pay is used, workers must be allowed to take their holiday, but will not be paid at the time they take it.

workers, prior to making changes to current arrangements, there are various matters that employers will need to consider.

• Careful consideration needs be given to assessing whether staff fall within the definition of a part year or irregular worker. Records should be kept in relation to how a decision on this matter was reached in case of a challenge and the arrangements should be kept under review to take account of future changes in working patterns.

if the fraction is less than 30 minutes, and rounded up where the fraction is 30 minutes or more.

Example from Government guidance: Jill works irregular hours and is paid monthly. Her leave year starts on 1 April 2024. She is entitled to the statutory minimum holiday entitlement only. In June, she works 68 hours. To work out how much holiday she accrues in June, the Employer will need to calculate 12.07% of 68 hours

Where an irregular hours or part year worker is on statutory leave (such as maternity leave or similar) or sickness absence, they accrued leave at 12.07% of the average hours worked over the prior 52 weeks. The Government guidance includes several examples of how to calculate holiday entitlement in different scenarios.

There will be a 52-week averaging system to calculate how much rolled-up holiday pay must be paid to workers for periods of sick leave or statutory leave.

The worker can express a preference as to how they receive holiday pay but the decision rests with the employer.

Action points for employers

Whilst the new rules on holiday pay are intended to create a simpler system of holiday entitlement and pay for irregular hours and part year

• Making changes to the way that holiday accrues and is paid may amount to a change to an employment contract. Employers should consider taking advice on making contractual changes to avoid complaints and ensuring any changes to the contract of employment are properly documented.

• Consider whether policies and procedures will require updates to take account of new holiday pay practices.

• If Employers choose to use rolled up holiday pay, they will need to consider what arrangements need to be in place to ensure that they can show that the leave is actually being taken in practice. Rolled up holiday pay also needs to be marked separately on payslips and planning may be required in terms of amending payroll practices.

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

37 May 2024 / Expert insights: Employment update from Taylor Walton

Regulatory insights in 2024:

3 key developments for the gambling industry

The start of 2024 has been as busy as ever, with a raft of consultations and noteworthy updates from the Gambling Commission. In today’s article, I will be discussing bingo in alcohol licensed venues, the importance of change of corporate control applications and my thoughts on the DCMS consultation on changes to the machines ratio.

Bingo in pubs and clubs

At the start of this year, the Gambling Commission’s e-bulletin issued a reminder on ‘Bingo in pubs and clubs’. The short statement explained that the Commission has seen an increase in queries on this topic recently and advised ‘lawyers and other industry advisors’ that there are several factors to consider when running bingo events in unlicensed venues.

The first thing to note, and most fundamental, is that the law has not changed. There has been no change to the regulation of bingo in pubs or clubs. ‘Bingo’ is defined under the Gambling Act 2005 (‘the Act’) and is classed as equal chance gaming. Part 12 of the Act provides allowances for exempt gaming in alcohol-licensed venues. The controls and mechanics of exactly how venues can operate bingo without an operating licence are laid out in statutory instruments.

In brief, the law permits bingo to be provided in alcohol licensed venues as exempt gaming. The game must be played whilst the bar is open and alcohol is for sale, is adult only and a participation fee cannot be charged*. The maximum stake for any game of bingo is £5 per person per game. In practice, this means £5 maximum per bingo card and per game, not per bingo session. If three games are played throughout a session, each with an independent card and different set of numbers, each card can be charged at £5. All stakes must go towards the prizes with no deductions. There is no limit on the value of the prize, however the total weekly value of the stakes or prize cannot be greater than £2,000, unless the operator also holds an

Operating Licence.

It is clear from the Gambling Commission’s e-bulletin that they see considerable risks in the use of exempt bingo. The risk is that the exempt bingo is exactly that - exempt. A pub operator does not require an operating licence or approval from the Gambling Commission akin to bingo licensed venues, or a bingo premise licence. They only need an alcohol premises licence. With that, comes no customer protection from the Licence Conditions and Codes of Practice (LCCP) attached to non-remote bingo Operating Licences, or the protection of conditions attached to bingo premises licences. There is no obligation for operators to adhere to the gambling objectives under the Gambling Act, the fundamental tenet to safe gambling. The LCCP are specifically designed to signpost operators to ensure the gambling objectives are always adhered to, such as requiring measures to prevent money laundering, ensuring specific safer gambling information is provided to customers and requiring customer interaction. This is why limits exist. Pubs can offer bingo, they do not have to adhere to the LCCP but as a result, stakes and prizes are limited. The game can only be offered for entertainment and not provided for any gaming revenue.

The Gambling Commission has issued a Code of Practice for equal chance gaming in licensed premises which must be adhered to at all times when operating exempt gaming, however this is considerably more light touch than the requirements placed on licensed operators found in the LCCP.

38 / May 2024 Expert insights: Legal update from Poppleston Allen

Why are we seeing more queries on holding bingo in venues without an operating licence? Well, it is not a secret in the industry that the number of bingo clubs across the country has fallen. Bingo clubs suffered with the indoor smoking ban in 2007, and more recently the covid pandemic and cost of living crisis.

However, out of adversity has come diversity. With people going out less often, the need for premises to provide an ‘experience’ – and entertainment - has increased. With this, we have seen pubs and clubs turning to exempt bingo to entice punters in on the traditionally quieter nights of the week. This diversification should ultimately have a positive direct impact on the industry, with more people playing bingo across the country and hopefully creating a new generation of ‘dabbers’!

*this relates specifically to pubs.

The law is slightly different for clubs dependent on the type of club in question.

** HiJingo and Bongo’s Bingo hold an operating licence with the Gambling Commission so different rules apply, but the point regarding the diversification of bingo remains.

Change of Corporate Control for operating licences

Changes in corporate structures occur daily at many different companies across the UK. The majority of companies, however, are not stringently regulated, so will be able to make these changes as they see fit and without providing in-depth information to any external regulatory body. Our industry is slightly different.

The Gambling world is heavily regulated, and as we all know there are considerable legal reporting duties placed upon operators by the Gambling Commission, such as when a change of corporate control takes place.

In March this year, the Gambling Commission published updated guidance on changes of corporate control for both public and privately traded companies. The primary reason the Commission has these checks in place is to monitor all sources of new funding a company has generated. The parameters of the conditions will be similar to the conditions of obtaining an operating licence approval. Our industry is highly regulated, and all stakeholders are subject to scrutiny, with the ultimate aim of protecting the industry and ultimately our customers.

Under the terms of Section 102 of the Gambling Act 2005, a company must notify the GC when a person or entity becomes a new controller of the company.

A person or entity is considered a controller if they hold:

• 10 percent or more of the shares in a licensed operator or in a parent undertaking of a licensed operator

• 10 percent or more of the voting power in a licensed operator or a parent undertaking of a licensed operator

• shares or voting power in a licensed operator or a parent undertaking of a licensed operator, that, as a result of which, the person will be able to exercise significant influence over the management of a licensed operator

“Diversification in pubs and clubs should ultimately have a positive direct impact on the industry, with more people playing bingo across the country and hopefully creating a new generation of ‘dabbers’!”

A reporting event to the Commission can be triggered by a transfer in share or voting power, or as a result of new investment. Evidence of the source of funding to acquire the controlling interest will also have to be provided.

It should also be noted that, when a person or entity purchases a 3% share in a company, this will trigger a key event notification. When this number is at 10% or above, the company must make a change of corporate control application. This application also comes with a fee and if any information is missing, this could delay the application. These regulations do not just cover new entities, as the form must also show all individuals and companies that already hold an interest of more than 3% in the licensee.

A key event must be reported to the Gambling Commission as soon as reasonably practicable, and in any event, within five working days of the licensee becoming aware of the event’s occurrence. They must either surrender the licence or apply for the licence to continue by way of a change of corporate control application to have an effect within five weeks of the change occurring.

39 May 2024 /
Expert insights: Legal update from Poppleston Allen

On top of this, if an entity has provided £50,000 (or the equivalent in foreign currency) or more of the funding for the acquisition or ongoing investment, the Gambling Commission will require information on the source of funds. Entities using their own money to fund investment will need to provide information on when they were created or incorporated, and which jurisdiction they are registered in.

This is a particularly complex issue when it comes to investors such as trusts or investment vehicles, as they can be formed of more than one individual or entity and are formed of both general and limited partners. This can make the task more time-consuming, but the company in question must make itself aware of what is required.

This is an important issue which, in our experience, operators are often unaware of; we cannot stress enough that they must ensure they fully understand these regulations.

Without wishing to put too much fear into the reader, failure to adhere to these regulations could potentially lead to the revocation of the operating licence. That illustrates just how seriously the Gambling Commission takes these rules. It is very common for a company to fail to realise they have triggered a reporting event, and they would not need us to tell them how frustrating it would be to lose their licence over a piece of paperwork that simply slipped through the cracks.

Our advice to clients would be to get ahead of the game and ensure they are fully aware of what is required ahead of such a transaction completing. The obligation to comply with these regulations fall on the licensee, but they must also make sure the investor is aware of this requirement. An application can be made in respect of a person or entity who is expected to become a controller of a company in advance of such a transaction.

This may seem like a laborious task and will add to the

various other duties that have to be carried out regarding an acquisition of shares, but in reality, it’s simply another compliance check.

When this task is completed ahead of time, the Gambling Commission can grant conditional approval and the entire process will run very smoothly. There is no reason for these measures to cause a headache, and so long as compliance teams are on top of them from an early stage, this will not be a problem. Being unaware of the rules will never be a legitimate defence for breaking them, so as a word of warning, do not miss this requirement!

DCMS – Machine Ratios

At the start of the year, the DCMS issued a supplementary consultation on machine ratios in bingo halls and AGCs. The deadline for the consultation has now passed and we await the results, however it is worth praising the DCMS for taking such a sensible view when looking at changes to machine ratios.

The consultation related specifically to B3 gaming machines – those with a maximum stake of £2, a maximum payout of £500, and a minimum game cycle of 2.5 seconds – and proposes a 3/1 ratio for B3 games in relation to every Category C/D game placed in a gaming venue.

It is certainly positive to see the DCMS supporting the retail sector, and the AGC and bingo sector in particular, with such a pragmatic, forward-thinking approach. The DCMS seems to be taking the issues the industry is facing seriously and is listening to operators. They are also trying to find a balance with the concerns of the Gambling Commission.

The proposed 3:1 or 2:1 ratio for B3 gaming machines will help provide the optimal mix of machines in an AGC, and will help with future-proofing and longevity, particularly as a lot of the older machines are more costly and onerous to run. The mix of machines will allow for greater variety, and will help offset losses from older machines. In addition, a wider array of options helps draw in varied consumers and to keep regular punters occupied.

The other benefit to having these newer models is the built-in safer gambling modes, such as time limits, consumer warnings and cooling off periods. The market can create a win-win for themselves and consumers by investing in the right mix of these machines.

Finally, in terms of the DCMS’s approach in guiding the sector, it seems intent on building a good framework, which is welcomed by many in the industry. Hopefully what is being proposed will build in future viability and help steady the industry in what has been a quite taxing past few years.

We await to see the result from the consultation.

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.

40 / May 2024 Expert insights: Legal update from Poppleston Allen

A guide to the “Year of Elections”

2024 will be a huge political year, with voters likely heading to the polls at least twice for the local elections, and the general election.

The local elections took place on 2 May, across 107 local council authorities, 39 Police and Crime Commissioners, 10 Metro Mayors and the London Assembly all up for grabs. These are always important contests for bingo clubs to be aware of as we may continue to see a period of Councils and Mayors gaining more powers in the coming years.

At the rate of the current polling, which sees the Conservatives at their lowest since Liz Truss’s mini-budget and based on their previous significant defeats in the by-elections last year, it is looking like the Conservatives will sustain heavy losses across the country, meaning clubs will need to be ready to welcome new local political leaders.

At PLMR, our key focus is ensuring the Bingo Association is ready for the outcome of the General Election. The main question on all our lips is what date the election will fall on which is still subject to lots of speculation and theories. Some point towards a summer election, which seems plausible when looking at the inner turmoil of the Conservative Party. The constant leadership challenges and discontent among Conservative MPs may encourage Sunak to call an earlier election to avoid being overthrown. Added to this is the rising threat of the Reform Party. Since their formation they have been gaining momentum in the polls, chipping away at the Conservative’s already unsteady voter base. Lee Anderson’s defection to the party was a further blow to Sunak, and memories of UKIP’s influence during the 2015 election may force the

Prime Minister’s hand. If the Conservatives see a wipeout in the local elections, this could serve as further motivation for Sunak to call an election sooner rather than later.

However, recently it was hinted by Chancellor Jeremy Hunt that an election in October or November seems to be the most likely course of action. It would follow a final fiscal event to try and woo voters, as they have been doing with the previous two Budgets and through cuts to National Insurance. If the election is in November, it would mean that party conferences would take place, and as the Conservative’s conference is last in the calendar it would allow them to capitalise on the media attention at the start of the election campaign. The latest date the election could be held is Thursday 23rd January 2025, which would mean a campaign over the Christmas period, which political activists and voters alike would want to avoid.

Minister, Steph Peacock and Shadow Secretary of State for Wales Jo Steves paying a recent visit to their local clubs in Barnsley and Cardiff respectively.

However, whilst it is important to build a working relationship with the incumbent MP, it is equally important to look to the future. 107 clubs have Conservative MPs, and while not all of them will lose their seat, with the current polling coupled with large boundary changes across the constituencies there is a strong possibility that this number will significantly reduce.

Whilst the election speculation is ever-changing, preparations are underway at the Bingo Association to ensure we are ready, whatever the election date. Clubs across the country have been building relationships with local MPs, with numerous visits taking place that demonstrate why bingo clubs are so important for the country, both socially and economically.

National Bingo Week from 24th June is a great opportunity to showcase the importance of bingo clubs to their local community. We have seen success with this approach, with visits from Shadow Gambling

Whilst this year is sure to be eventful, the Bingo Association is focused on ensuring that land-based bingo is firmly on the agenda through building a wide support base across all parties and forms of government in the political system in the UK.

Dan Baynes is a Public Affairs Specialist at PLMR and advises the Bingo Association on political and media engagement. He can be contacted on 07960 245 492 or via email –

41 May 2024 / Expert insights: Political update from PLMR
43 May 2024 /
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Barbara Knox, and some of her fellow Coronation Street cast members on stage at Gala Bingo Salford (circa 1994). Manager Stan Kennedy in the middle. Photo courtesy of Frankie McMahon. Joe Duttine and Sally Carman-Duttine, who play Tim Metcalfe and Abi Franklin in Coronation Street, helped to launch Club 3000 Blackpool in July 2023. ➜ Liz Dawn was a regular visitor to bingo clubs down the years. Here she is with the late Bingo Manager, David Ryder, who was also known as the longest serving extra in Coronation Street. Photo courtesy of Graeme Corner.
Actor Ken Morley, who played Reg Holdsworth in Coronation Street, visits The Concord Bingo Club in Washington, 1994. During a relaunch night at Mecca Bingo Sale, Manager Fred Bebbington is joined by Liz Dawn and Bill Tarmey from Coronation Street. Back in 1983, customers from the Granada Bingo Club at Nottingham St Anns met the cast of Coronation Street at the Granada TV Studios in Manchester.

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