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BINGOLife Summer 2019 - Issue 30



Mecca and Buzz



BINGO♥ VARIETY Spreading the love

AGM 2019



#1 Anniversary


BINGOLife Published by ACE Publishing Ltd

Publisher - Peter White Tel: +44 (0) 1892 740869 Mob: +44 (0) 7973 273714 pwhite@ace123.com


Editor - Miles Baron miles@bingo-association.co.uk Managing Editor - Steve Baldwin steven@bingo-association.co.uk




Design - Stewart Hyde stewart@totaldesignworks.com www.totaldesignworks.com Webmaster and IT - Sudip Banjaree sb@ace123.com

Sales and Marketing Subscriptions - Helen Holmes subs@ace123.com

The Editorial policy: The views and opinions expressed in Bingo Life 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 ommissions 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 publishers’ written consent. Printed in the UK by Premier Print Group Ltd

Welcome to the Summer 2019 issue of Bingo Life. We start the season with news: The Bingo Association’s Annual General Meeting; Award wins for Responsible Gambling Week luminaries; the first anniversary of the revised format National Bingo Game; and discover that Cardiff is calling #BingoVIP. We hope that you enjoy the issue and look forward to sharing more news and stories with you in our Winter issue out later in the year. If there is an idea or topic that you wish to share then be sure to let us know. Happy reading.

Sandton Convention Centre South Africa 2 - 3 October 2019

Shining a light on Africa’s gaming ecosystem For more information and to register, visit www.iceafrica.za.com




Contents 1 Welcome to Bingo Life Summer 2019 3 Editor’s Foreword Miles Baron


5 Guest Comment Kate Chambers Managing Director Clarion Gaming 7

News Round Up

18 National Bingo Game First year anniversary 20 Global Regulatory Awards 2019


21 The Bingo Association – AGM 2019 24 Bingo Loves Variety


29 Shipley Creative Two Cherries 32 GAMCARE Safer Gambling Standard 35 Receiving you loud and clear: Willow Communications celebrate 30 years 39 It’s Bingo Joan, but not as you know it! 43 Two Mikes, One Game Mike Sime and Mike Smith


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Chief Executive’s foreword


he Bingo Association’s 2019 priorities are set in what is now an all too familiar pattern, of convincing the regulator and DCMS that licensed bingo is a form of gambling that is responsible and affords its customers adequate protections from gambling harm. Efforts to portray this accurate representation of the industry have in a way been crystallised by the call for evidence on player protection on Category B gaming machines. The challenges for bingo are several. One is that B3 gaming machine play cannot be seen through the lens of the recent B2 gaming machine debate (FOBTs): B3 play in licensed betting offices (LBOs) is a totally different animal to that taking place in a bingo club, not least because of the differences in consumer demographics and the nature and characteristics of the bingo club environment, such as membership and staff to customer ratios. The second challenge is an economic one in that bingo clubs are heavily reliant on B3 machine income for their profitability and highly sensitive to any income reduction. Add to these points the high cost of replacing existing machines with ones that can accommodate time and limit setting functionality, let alone player tracking capability, and you have an industry threatening situation. The Bingo Association is, on behalf of its members, recommending a staged approach in the call for evidence. The first is to continue with the social responsibility messaging trial on gaming machines, which completed a fully evaluated pilot in November last year and saw continued wider roll-out across BA and BACTA members’ premises at the end of May. This should, upon successful evaluation, become the standard for the industry thereafter. The second approach is around the initial trialling of voluntary time and limit setting on machines (with the capability to do so) leading to industry roll out, again following evaluation. And finally, the BA is in discussions with GamCare to start bespoke industry-wide know your customer (KYC) social responsibility and interaction training modules, to complement existing industry training, www.bingolifemagazine.com

with a view to putting this live in October. Elsewhere, The Bingo Association has also digested and responded to two other significant releases from the regulator: one is the launch Miles Baron, Chief Executive, The Bingo Association of the Gambling Commission’s new harm prevention strategy and consultation on customer interaction. Like proverbial London Buses, these things all seem to come along at roughly the same time. In parallel with these activities, The Bingo Association is hoping to have totally removed paper from its self–exclusion scheme by the end of 2019. To enable this it is offering all members a complimentary digital solution, in other words a free tablet. As always, these changes are always a challenge, particularly when IT is involved! On the commercial side of things, the National Bingo Game continues to go from strength to strength, proving popular with both operators and customers. A year on from the launch of the revised fixed odds game it has been great to see familiar operators once again offering the game. The Bingo Association’s 2019 Annual General Meeting was held at a new venue this year: Salters Hall in the city. The fixed residency of a certain show about a chap called Mike, prevented us from using the Hippodrome. After several years we say goodbye to the Hippodrome team who looked after us very well. The new venue also gave rise to a new format; a full report can be found on page 15. Our June Board Meeting saw us say a fond farewell and thanks to Alan Morgan, who has been a fantastic Chair of the National Bingo Game Association and The Bingo Association over the last few years. We also welcomed our new Chair, Chris Matthews CEO of Buzz Bingo. 3


Brands mean business – trust me!


rands, the argument goes, help you stand out from the competition, they form a relationship between company and customers, they strengthen the effectiveness of an organisation’s marketing spend and they provide a bond with employees that goes way beyond the remuneration package. As someone who is a passionate advocate of brands, I believe the best explanation of what makes them so pivotal, comes from Unilever’s former Chief Marketing and Communications Officer, Keith Weed. Once named by Forbes as the World’s most influential CMO, he famously argued that ‘A brand without trust is a product’. When I say famously, I’m really referring to the awareness of this marketing adage throughout the Clarion Gaming office as it’s a mantra that I quote at every opportunity! As in any relationship, trust is everything and conversely, without trust, we are nothing. This is particularly the case with businesses operating in the hospitality and entertainment space where the competition for spend is so intense. If customers put their trust in a brand secure in the knowledge that they are going to have an enjoyable experience they are more likely to return. The relatively low cost of building a loyal customer base compared to those associated with recruiting new customers make trust an incredibly valuable asset for any business. In the same way that bingo operators have invested in their brands, so has Clarion Gaming. Arguably the most famous event brand in gaming is ICE. Through a continuous programme of brand investment ICE London has enjoyed a fantastic period of growth. Over the period 2011–2019 show attendance has increased by 73 percent, net floor space is up 137 percent and the number of exhibitors has risen from 409 (2011) to the 2019 total of 612. I’m delighted to say that the market trusts ICE on so many different levels. With trust comes reputation and the exportability of this reputation enabled us to launch ICE Africa in 2018, followed in May this year with the first edition of ICE North America. www.bingolifemagazine.com

Kate Chambers, Managing Director, Clarion Gaming

Trust is an important element in relationship building and I’m delighted that by working alongside our partners and stakeholders we have been able to create events that the industry wants and supports. This applies to the fantastic relationship that we enjoy with the Bingo Association, a partnership which has enabled us to represent the bricks and mortar bingo industry with its own Pavilion, something that has developed into a really important and stand out feature of the ICE London experience. One final thought - is it any coincidence that it’s a brand led strategy that has given ICE London such a purple patch of growth? To register for tickets and more information on ICE London including the Bingo Pavilion visit: icelondon.uk.com ICE London: 4-6 February 2020, ExCeL London, UK For ICE Africa: 2-3 October 2019, Sandton Convention Centre, South Africa, visit: iceafrica.za.com Kate Chambers, Managing Director, Clarion Gaming 5



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The Bingo Pavilion @ ICE 2019

The pavilion has become a key destination at the show for land-based operators and businesses to meet and engage with exhibitors, as well The

Fun, fun, fun Bingo was always part of the entertainment industry: from singers and comedians doing a ‘turn’ mid-session to saucy tongue-in-cheek bingo calls, bingo has always been synonymous with fun, sociability and community. With a truly co-operative approach to meeting customers’ needs, the Edward Thompson (ET) team are always ready to listen to customers and explore something new – like their work with Dabbers Bingo – as now colour digital bingo tickets provide added scope for fun and games. Whether adding variety with themed nights or inserting new jackpot games into the session, modern colour tickets offer operators the opportunity to tailor their games, adding something unique and a little extra excitement to their bingo players’ bingo. With colour books you can let your imagination run free. ET have come up with some options to get things started, but welcome operators ideas: try Beach Ball bingo, or Penguin Pyramid. Or run a Hollywood or Sixties themed night: the choice is yours! www.bingolifemagazine.com

Over the last five years the association has been working with Clarion Events to build the profile and presence of the land-based bingo sector at ICE. The 2020 event is set to run at London ExCel from 4-6 February 2020.



If you want to add a bit of drama, why not introduce quick fire 9 from 36 game, or really take things to a 6 whole other level and 31 try Powercall bingo system: offering all the standard bingo calling you know 28 and love with the added benefit of over 30 animated 27 party games and 21 20 winner bonus games, all output in studio quality HD. If you’ve got a great idea talk to ET to see 001234 AA how together we could get the party started! For further information www.edwardthompson.com





n © 2016

The 2019 show was another landmark year, which saw the Bingo Pavilion almost double in size and welcome new pavilion exhibitors ISD, Captec and ECM. The newcomers joined NRM, Edward Thompson, Shipley Creative, Cowells Arrow and Leisure Electronics in the expanded space.

Bingo Association. The established evening drinks receptions, held on the Tuesday and Wednesday nights courtesy of NRM and Edward Thompson, once again proved popular: both events were once again full to capacity.


The Bingo Pavilion at ICE, held in February at London’s ExCel each year continues to go from strength to strength, thanks to the support of Bingo Association members and suppliers.



Captec lands second Queen’s Award for bingo innovations

Back row: Richard Phelps, Matt Watts, Jeremy Langdon, Ian Langton, Max Toti, Adam Sullivan, Peter Molyneux, Chris Harland, Graham Maunder, Noel Smith. Front row: Steve Grenyer, Andy Atkins, Ian Wilkes-Holmes, Gary Knight

Leading manufacturer of electronic bingo tablets, Captec, has won the Queen’s Award for Innovation - its second Award in three years. The internationally-recognised Award honours Captec’s innovation in creating tablets and group charging solutions, and follows an earlier accolade in 2016. Speaking about the Award, Max Toti, Founder and CEO of Captec, said, “Our second Queen’s Award recognises the broad spectrum of contributions from all our staff involved in this new product line, our supply chain partners who helped us realise the product and fulfil demand, and our valued customers who put their trust in us and helped us through the teething journey. This innovation and Award is a very proud 8

achievement for the Captec team.” The innovation covered both product and process: technical innovations centred on the tablet’s custom cost-effective design, advanced power management electronics, extended battery power pack and ergonomic protective enclosure. This extended to group charging stations capable of the cable-free charging of 16 to 60 tablets concurrently – that also deliver optional wired Ethernet connection for updates and diagnostics whilst charging. Collaborating with a manufacturing partner in China, Captec struck an optimal balance between developing a well-designed platform and leveraging the cost-effectiveness of volume manufacturing. The partner was selected issue 029

NEWS for its technical and commercial capabilities, enabling Captec to modify BIOS firmware for the integration of gaming specific extended functionalities. Captec’s engineers innovated to extend operating time beyond the standard 6 to 8 hours afforded by a commercial tablet. Lithium-ion batteries are incredibly sensitive to charging cycles, so extensive development was required to efficiently balance power management for both charging and discharging cycles. By adding an external battery with smart charge management electronics to supplement the internal battery, Captec improved operating time to over 10 hours at typical operational load, delivering uninterrupted gameplay and maximising longevity for up to 5 years. To make the tablets as ergonomic as possible, Captec designed an outer case incorporating a carry handle and kickstand: this enables players to transport the tablet with ease and then position it with an ergonomic view that suits their preference. The outer case was developed to provide additional protection in the event of dropping or bumping, as well as to accommodate all the electronics required for the extended functionality. All this was achieved while meeting CE requirements for safety, radiated EMC emissions and thermal management for power dissipation. The innovation includes group charging stations where anything from 16 to 60 tablets can be charged concurrently by simply docking them in the station. A simple red/green indicator on the handle informs the player of the tablet charge status. The power management capabilities of both the tablet and stations also charges the extended batteries, ensuring a reliable and continual source of power. Captec have also provisioned optional additional electronics for wired Ethernet connection for group updating. This enables significant numbers of tablets to be managed for software updates via hardwired Ethernet as opposed to WiFi. When large estates use the WiFi in close www.bingolifemagazine.com

proximity interference can occur and slow down the transfer rates, which is mitigated using wired Ethernet connection. Peter Molyneux, Strategic Projects Director for Gaming at Captec, said, “This Award is a demonstration of our ability to listen to customer requirements and respond with cost-effective solutions through design, innovation and engineering, as well as our determination to persist in the presence of technical challenges – reflected in year-on-year sales growth both in the UK and internationally.” The latest Award illustrates Captec’s strategy to grow through innovative products, capabilities, services and acquisitions, as it moves rapidly towards IPO floatation. Captec’s electronic bingo tablets and charge stations can be found in bingo clubs up and down the country, with the innovative technology trusted by the likes of Mecca and Buzz Bingo. With an also rapidly increasing footprint in Canada and the USA, the tablets have enabled bingo operators to seamlessly integrate electronic-based bingo games alongside more traditional formats to drive new revenue streams. 9


Club 3000 sets its sights on the future Club 3000, New Hall Lane, Preston

Leading independent bingo operator, Club 3000, has set its sights firmly on the future and has announced plans to invest £2.5m in the coming twelve months. Its first move has been to purchase the former Mecca Bingo site on Marina Drive in Ellesmere Port, which closed in October last year, to the disappointment of local players and MP Justin Madders. The £1.3 million investment will bring bingo back to Ellesmere, with plans to give the club a full makeover prior to its launch in September this year.

Club 3000 closed their Preston City club in March this year, transferring the business to a new purpose built club down the road in New Hall Lane. The Preston City site, in Tithebarn Street, has an incredible history and has traded very successfully for over 40 years: it holds fond memories for many in the industry. Club 3000 have not yet disposed of the site and are considering developing the old club into a bowling alley.

Brian Fraser, founder of Club 3000, said, “We are delighted to extend our portfolio of clubs in the northwest to 14. This is a great venue and community and we are excited to offer customers a fabulous bingo experience in a first-class, modern and secure environment. “There will be something for everyone – both regular bingo lovers and new customers. The completely refurbished club will not only offer bingo lovers a fantastic new experience but also bring much-needed jobs to the local area.” Club 3000 will invest a further £1m in their Liverpool club, in Stanley Park, giving it a top-tobottom refurbishment. This comes only two years after the company invested £1.4m in their other Liverpool club in Huyton. 10

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National Bingo Game Caller of the Year

The National Bingo Game is delighted to announce that Caller of the Year is BACK! The bingo Caller of the Year competition was launched in 1994 and ran for 15 years: previous contestants really enjoyed the thrill of entering and taking part in the competition. Despite being a competition against each other in qualifying heats and in a national final, participants found that they received genuine support from other contestants and bingo customers, with many enduring friendships having been forged that have stood the test of time over the years. 2019 sees the return of this much loved competition and it is a great opportunity to once again celebrate those who call the game. You don’t need any specific qualifications to take part in bingo Caller of the Year providing that you are employed as a full or part-time main stage bingo caller, at a licensed bingo venue which plays any or all of the following games: the National Bingo Game, National Live, National Cash or National Bullseye. www.bingolifemagazine.com

The length of time you have been a bingo caller does not matter: it is your calling, communication skills, personality and the interest you take in your work that counts. You could win up to £1,000, plus enjoy a superb all expenses paid trip to the National Bingo Game Caller of the Year final, which will be held in Birmingham at the end of November. The competition gives the industry a huge opportunity to celebrate clubs and bingo callers, and to engage positively with the media, showing them what bingo is all about – fun, friendship and community in great venues. The competition will be launching in independent clubs on 24th June, so look out for more details over the coming weeks: there will be up to 4 semi-final heats, with each event selecting a winner who will progress to the national final. Mecca and Buzz Bingo will hold their own qualifying heats, with each company determining one winner who will progress to the National Final.



Majestic Bingo goes a little green to help the planet Gary Bennett, Finance Director at Majestic Bingo Limited, said, “I’m delighted to support Cool Earth in their mission to help protect endangered rainforest, so when I met Jonathan at Open Energy Market, who put together a new energy contract for us that was not only cost effective and cheaper for the company, it was a natural decision for me to sign up and also do our bit for the environment by supporting the partnership with OEM and Cool Earth.”

Awajun, Northern Peru

Little did Majestic Bingo know that when they were looking to renew their energy contracts across their 16 sites that they would end up with not only a great deal, but would also be able to do the right thing to help protect the planet. Open Energy Market, who helped to provide the new energy contracts, works in partnership with Cool Earth by supporting the Awajun community in Northern Peru, whose forest is currently facing threats from oil and gold extraction. This means by signing up with Open Energy Market (OEM), Majestic have directly helped the partnership between OEM and Cool Earth protect 4.28 acres of rainforest which is equivalent to 1,028 trees. The contribution from Majestic, along with other companies and supporters, is directly invested in sustainable livelihood support, forest health and community improvement in local communities, helping to establish fund accounts and community associations that place the future of surrounding rainforest in the hands of the people best placed to protect it. 12

Jonathan Anstey, Head of Partnerships at Open Energy Market, said, “Working with Majestic Bingo was very easy and it was clear to see throughout their desire to reduce carbon emissions and save energy to reduce their impact on the environment, through our own partnership with Cool Earth alongside implementing behavioural change projects around energy and deploying solar PV at viable sites.” The goal for the partnership with OEM and Cool Earth is to continue to contribute positively to the Awajun community and ultimately protect 1,000 acres from deforestation in just one year – that’s twice the size of the Olympic Park in London! Open Energy Market have so far protected 230 acres by partnering with Cool Earth who have a number of celebrity supporters, including Dame Vivienne Westwood, Kelly Hoppen, and Claudio Cardoso, Executive Chef of celeb fave, Sushisamba. This new contract, along with others they are currently considering, such as better waste management, means the familiar Majestic colours of purple and orange now also have little bit of green running through them! You can find out more about Open Energy Market and Cool Earth by visiting their websites: www.openenergymarket.com www.coolearth.org issue 030

Let’s talk about safer gambling... To find out more and get involved visit: www.responsiblegamblinguk.org

ResponsibleGamblingWeek.org @RGWeek19 #RGWeek19


Jamie Queen joins Buzz Bingo as Chief Commercial Officer Jamie Queen has joined Buzz Bingo in the newlycreated role of Chief Commercial Officer. Buzz Bingo underwent a £40 million rebrand from Gala Leisure Ltd last September as well as launching its online platform buzzbingo.com: Buzz currently has a nationwide network of 119 bingo clubs. In his new role Jamie will oversee all marketing communications for the brand, as well as its food and beverage operations, gaming and bingo propositions, and will report directly to CEO, Chris Matthews, incoming Chair of The Bingo Association. Prior to joining Buzz, Jamie was Group Marketing Director for Thomas Cook Group, with responsibility for all aspects of the group’s marketing across all territories. Jamie joined Thomas Cook in March 2014, initially in charge of eCommerce before taking on an expanded role as Marketing and e-commerce Director in the UK, before then becoming Group Marketing Director. Prior to Thomas Cook, Jamie has held roles within marketing, e-commerce and digital areas across a number of household brands including The AA, Saga Group and Budget Insurance.

Chris Matthews, CEO of Buzz Bingo said, “Jamie impressed us with his passion for understanding what drives customer behaviour, his interest in disruptive innovation and his ability to harness the latest technology. He has an excellent track-record in managing businesses across digital and retail platforms. “At a time when Buzz is going through rapid change and exciting development, we are extremely positive about what Jamie will bring to both the executive management team and the organisation as a whole.”


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First look at Carlton Dunfermline refurbishment Carlton Bingo is one of the UK’s leading independent licensed bingo operators and the largest in Scotland, with twelve clubs, located in Buckie, Dalkeith, Dunfermline, Dumbarton, East Kilbride, Elgin, Fraserburgh, Inverness, Livingston, Partick, Stirling and Whitley Bay. The company was formed in 1998 when Peter Perrins, George Carter, Brian King and Chris Barr bought out the bingo interests of Taylor Clark Limited. Carlton Bingo has always been at the heart of the communities in which it operates and aims to deliver an excellent customer experience, through continually developing its customer offering (games, food, drinks) and its venues: having successfully renovated their Stirling club last year to great effect, this year they set their sights on Dunfermline. Carlton Dunfermline opened in 2005 and was the first purpose built Carlton club. Located on Fife Leisure Park the club was in a new location, having previously been at The Alhambra, in Canmore Street. The out-of-town club set a new standard for bingo venues and opened to great acclaim, offering outstanding food and beverage offerings, luxury comfort seating and stunning computer controlled lighting system. Since opening customer requirements have changed slightly and Carlton wanted to ensure that they continued to delight their customers. The £2.4 million refurbishment took 16 weeks to complete and was the culmination of extensive planning. The Carlton management team had identified some very clear objectives for the project: • Reduce club foot print, to create a 12,000 sq ft lettable space • Reduce club capacity from 2,000 to 1,000 seats and improve atmosphere


• Create a modern club fit for the next 10 years: • sound proof acoustic splitting wall • new ‘traditional’ area • Creation of new kitchen area to facilitate cookto-order • Creation of 2 new bars • Creation of 160 seat Chat Lounge, with stage for after bingo entertainment and party bookings • Creation of new foyer, book sales and machines areas • New decor and carpeting. Mike Watret, Director at Carlton Bingo said, “We wanted to create a modern club with a stylish interior design and finish, fit for present and future Fife bingo players. The re-launch will be supported with a club programme of party events, special promotions and mailings, together with a targeted integrated marketing campaign.” 15


Shipley MP Philip Davies and Buzz Bingo get local charity get back on the road donation. I hope this money will mean they can pay the excess on their insurance and get the vital repairs done and get back on the road.” Chief Executive of The Bingo Association Miles Baron said, “Bingo prides itself in helping out local communities. We are delighted that Buzz Bingo, one of our largest operators, has come to the rescue helping BDSL in supporting this wonderful service.” The minibus, which is labelled with BDSL logos, was parked in the Westcliffe Medical Centre when the theft happened. Organisers now fear they need to find a more secure location to keep the vehicles or have someone watch over them.

An MP has praised Buzz Bingo for donating hundreds of pounds needed to help disabled athletes get back on the road after vandals damaged their minibus. The vehicle belonging to Bradford Disability Sport and Leisure (BDSL) had its catalytic converter stolen for the second time in three months.

Hilary White, Chair of BDSL said, “I would like to thank Philip for his rapid support in getting Buzz Bingo to help us out in our hour of need. The bus is so important to get our disabled athletes to the various training sessions and competitions.” The theft happened weeks after BDSL returned home from the Special Olympics in Abu Dhabi in March, armed with a large medal haul following their success at the event.

Shipley MP Philip Davies contacted The Bingo Association to see whether they could help and Buzz Bingo - one of the Association’s largest members with clubs in both Bradford and Keighley - offered to pay the £400 excess for the insurance to help its local community. Mr Davies said, “Bingo has a very important place in local communities, and I am hugely grateful to The Bingo Association for stepping in to help such a very worthy cause. Bradford Disability Sport and Leisure do a wonderful job and I am pleased to have been able to help secure this generous and very much needed 16

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Jo Brand helps Buzz Bingo celebrate raising over £500,000 for Alzheimer’s Society and Alzheimer Scotland Comedian, author, and television personality Jo Brand attended Buzz Bingo, Tooting to mark a milestone moment of Buzz having raised over £500,000 for Alzheimer’s Society and Alzheimer Scotland. The ‘thank you’ event was held on Saturday 15th June at Buzz Bingo, Tooting where Jo, who has previously worked as a psychiatric nurse and is an ambassador for the charity, received a cheque from Buzz Bingo’s Chief Retail Officer, Peter Brigden. Peter said, “We’re so pleased to reach this milestone of over £500,000 in donations for Alzheimer’s Society and Alzheimer Scotland, the UK’s leading dementia support and research charities.” The ‘thank you’ event was a moment of celebration that Buzz Bingo members were also a part of. With over £500,000 donated to Alzheimer’s Society and Alzheimer Scotland, Buzz Bingo has helped to fund community-based support for people with dementia across the whole of the UK. In England, Northern Ireland and Wales, twelve Alzheimer’s Society ‘Side by Side’ services have been funded, providing volunteer support to people with dementia, enabling them to continue playing an active role in their community and doing activities they enjoy. In Scotland, the money


has helped fund Dementia Resource Centres, providing advice, information, emotional support and social activities. Jeremy Hughes, Chief Executive at Alzheimer’s Society, said, “We’d like to say a huge thank you for such a milestone donation from Buzz Bingo. Currently, there are 850,000 people in the UK with dementia, with many feeling isolated and alone. This invaluable donation will help fund our ‘Side By Side’ service, ensuring people with dementia can continue to play active roles in their community and do the things they love with the support of volunteers.   “We’re delighted that our Ambassador, Jo Brand, could join us at the event and are extremely grateful for her continued support of Alzheimer’s Society.” 17


Now we are one

Club 2000, Runcorn


he National Bingo Game has been a long standing favourite amongst bingo players and throughout its thirty year plus history, and has always offered players great prizes and life-changing cash wins. During this time it has seen a number of changes to the game format, helping to keep it fresh and appealing. The last upgrade to the game format took place on 30th April last year and saw the game offering more prizes, with claims becoming instant for the first time ever: these changes have proved popular with operators and players alike.

Club 3000, Kirkcaldy


In the first year of new format game there have been… •  Over 20,654 jackpot winners: 97 £50,000 winners 2,000 £1,000 winners and 18,500 £100 winners. • Over £ 8.7m in jackpot prizes alone won • Over £17.4m in house prizes won

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Coronet, Didcot

Mecca, Oldham

• Over £28.8m in total prize money won • Over 122.5m tickets sold.

Carlton, Stirling

Many of the winning clubs have held parties for all their customers to celebrate the clubs success, with lots of lucky winners booking holidays and treating their friends and family: there has also been the purchase of a new camper van and a donkey! The success of the new game once again makes the National Bingo Game the most played bingo game in Great Britain:

Club 2000, Runcorn

• The most players • The most participating venues You can see a full list of all the £50,000 jackpot winning clubs on the National Bingo Game website (www.nationalbingo.co.uk): to date Stockton is the luckiest town, having had four £50,000 jackpot winners.


Carlton, Drumchapel



Responsible Gambling Week champion wins global regulatory award

around 20 million impressions on social media. Leading football clubs and racecourses also took part, promoting safer gambling messages through their own channels and reaching new audiences. The 3rd Global Regulatory Awards took place at the De Vere Grand Connaught Rooms in London on 1st May and were hosted by actor and comedian Stephen Mangan. The Outstanding Achievement Award is presented to an individual who has implemented industry-leading compliance initiatives in 2018-2019. The Awards are judged by an independent panel of experts and honour people working in a constantly changing regulatory landscape, who demonstrate a dedication to trustworthy gambling but rarely receive the plaudits they deserve. Deborah Roil said, “I am honoured to have received this award, on behalf of everyone in the industry who worked so hard to make the 2018 campaign a success. The objective is to trigger a national conversation about responsible gambling and, with the support of the trade associations and operators, I have no doubt we will make the 2019 campaign even bigger and better.”

Sephen Mangan, Deborah Roil and Micky Swindale


eborah Roil, of the Industry Group for Responsible Gambling (IGRG) and Responsible Gambling Week champion, won the Compliance Outstanding Achievement award at the third annual Global Regulatory Awards. Deborah was given the award for her role as project manager and champion of Responsible Gambling Week and for its success in 2018, which encompassed more than 12,000 gambling venues and online sites, involved 120,000 employees across Great Britain and created 20

John Hagan, chairman of the IGRG, said, “During Responsible Gambling Week, operators want to reach not only their customers, but also their families and friends and the wider community. The IGRG is hoping to work with a broad range of groups, including charities, local authorities and information services, to ensure we connect with the widest possible audience. We want to find new ways of making this an open and inclusive conversation.” Responsible Gambling Week 2019 will take place from 7th – 13th November. Information about RG Week 2019 will be made available online at www.responsiblegamblingweek.org and Facebook and Twitter @RGWeek19. issue 030


The Bingo Association – AGM 2019


he Bingo Association AGM this year was ousted from its regular venue, the Hippodrome Casino, by the very popular live show Magic Mike, that is in residence through to 4th January 2020. Forced to find a new venue, the Association elected to move east, to the City of London and Salters Hall. The Salters’ Company, originating from 1394, is one of the Great Twelve City Livery Companies, ranked number nine in the order of precedence: • Mercers • Grocers • Drapers • Fishmongers • Goldsmiths • Merchant Taylors • Skinners • Haberdashers • Salters • Ironmongers • Vintners • Clothworkers www.bingolifemagazine.com

Livery companies are descended from the medieval trade guilds and are now largely social and charitable organisations of which there are some 110 in the City of London. In medieval times The Salters’ Company members were salt traders, involved in the preparation of chemical mixtures for use in food. Nowadays they are involved in several charitable foundations, philanthropy and science education. The company’s flagship charity, The Salters’ Institute, is one of the country’s leaders in the field of science curriculum development with the aim to promote the appreciation of chemistry and related sciences among the young. Salters’ Hall is home to a national collection of domestic saltcellars and its pieces can be viewed by special arrangement. Salt has always been an important element of life, and has served as currency at various times and places. Thus saltcellars became a status symbol – those who could afford salt kept it in a container; at events guests were seated above or below the salt according to their position in society – no such 21


seating plan was necessary for the Association’s AGM which took place on Thursday 16th May. In keeping with previous AGMs the formal part of the meeting was closed, with presentations given after lunch by invited speakers. This year’s speakers were Ben Haden from the Gambling Commission, Sean O’Neil from Bedfordshire Police, Howard Gant from IHL, and Noreen Kinsey and Nia Turner from MMR Research. Programme Director Ben Haden from the Gambling Commission was the first speaker after lunch, whose presentation was titled ‘communicating safer gambling messages to low and moderate-risk consumers’. The issues of social responsibility and prevention of gambling related harms are familiar long standing topics for the bingo and broader gambling industry. Haden, who had previously been looking after the National Lottery, welcomed the opportunity to engage with the industry as the Commission wished to obtain the best information possible on how the industry works and operates, including insights into consumer behaviour: working collaboratively with the sector would be the best way to obtaining accurate and meaningful information. Haden went on to set out the National Strategy to reduce harm, showing how eight key areas all interconnected. 20

Key aims for 2019 would remain: 1. Protecting the interests of consumers, focussing on machines: categories B, C and D 2. Raising Standards: establishing best practice and taking action against operators who fail to meet minimum standards 3.  Engagement process for fourth lottery licence. While the themes and areas presented were not new, some clarity was given as to how the Commission was evolving its thinking in these areas: • KYC – looking at ways to use the information held about customers to give greater clarity on what should trigger interaction, when and how. • Understanding consumer perceptions: a key strand of work in this area would be to explore more fully consumers’ perceptions of gambling activity and perceptions of their own gambling activity in differing behavioural states. • Developing approaches: seeking engagement not just with compliance teams, but also marketing and research teams – to inform understanding and obtain insights.

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FEATURE: BINGO ASSOCIATION AGM • Evaluation: essential, but need not necessarily be complicated. • Developing messaging: there is currently no standard iconography for messaging and language used is key: • Be concise • Where possible be visual • In tone be: human, empowering and reassuring While bingo was acknowledged as being a minimal cause of harm its role on connecting with customers, particularly in land based venues, was seen as important in reaching gamblers who may be at risk. Haden also acknowledged that the bingo sector had been quick to start developing and testing safer gambling messaging and that he looked forward to seeing the evaluation of the latest pilot activity. As part of the collaborative approach to messaging development a working group of three Commission representatives, twelve customers and six operators had already been held – although details of the participating operators were not disclosed he did encourage those in the room to volunteer for future groups. Next to address delegates was Sean O’Neil, Fraud and Cyber Security Advisor from Bedfordshire Police. This was perhaps a surprising speaker for many, as regular users of IT we may not consider ourselves susceptible to mandate fraud or phishing scams, nor be particularly vulnerable as such. However, this section produced the largest number of delegate questions with the two key reminders being to backup regularly and never use open WiFi networks to transmit sensitive or security related information. Howard Gant from IHL then gave a presentation on bridging the gap between the gaming machine landscape and an increasingly cashless society: payment solution Two Cherries may well be part of the solution. Following a short networking break for coffee, Association Chief Executive Miles Baron www.bingolifemagazine.com

introduced Noreen Kinsey and Nia Turner from MMR Research, who have been retained by the Association to monitor and research a range of key consumer issues. As this was the first round of research from the programme the results set a benchmark for going forward. This first tranche of research revisited some familiar territory, like reasons why people play (56% social, 50% excitement of winning, and 43% chance of winning) and the age-old balance between players wanting large prizes and increased chances of winning. In exploring why players lapse, the most common reason was no longer having anyone to go with. The new area was the question of impact of Brexit and Universal Credit: while Brexit had little impact on players’ behaviour, changes to Universal Credit had seen a drop in spend for some. MMR invited members to suggest areas for future consideration in research. Chief Executive Miles Baron closed the day’s proceedings inviting all to join him at the post AGM drinks reception, also held in Salters Hall. 23




whom Variety, the bled and disadvantaged children On behalf of all the sick, disa for committing to all you k than to ld wou I in, ss Brita Children’s Charity supports acro ng already raised havi you of top on This . Variety in 2019 ort is greatly fundraise a further £250,000 for supp ing ongo previous four years. Your a whopping £1.3 million in the appreciated by all of us at Variety. of children and us to continue to improve the lives Your generous donations will help rty. It will help us fund pove and th heal poor , bility disa young people disadvantaged by Great Days Out. Coaches, specialist equipment and even more much needed Sunshine . rg.uk ety.o .vari ty please visit www For more information about Varie birthday. We were ty - we are celebrating our 70th This is a really big year for Varie . Since then, we 1949 in h burg Edin of HRH, The Duke founded at a dinner hosted by disabled children n millio 1 her ren. However, with anot have helped nearly 1 million child much work still to have we UK, the in rty pove in le living and nearly 4 million young peop do. ty fundraising week supporting the Bingo Loves Varie We are really looking forward to . 2019 ember which kicks off on Monday 2nd Sept year, please do not raising activities throughout the If we can help your additional fund e@variety.org.uk roch elle. dani e Roch ielle Dan Manager hesitate to contact your Account to discuss further. l media activity to to tag @VarietyGB on your socia I would like to encourage you all of Variety to your le profi the raise help to ership and celebrate our fantastic charity partn ork that Variety netw your in a family or an organisation networks. In addition, if there is us. act could help please tell them to cont already changed and children whose lives you have Once again, on behalf of all the heart. my of m botto the from you k than those who you are yet to help, I Very best wishes

Frances Lang Chief Executive


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BINGO♥Variety Broomfield School Leeds: Miles Baron, pictured with Kathryn Bryan Broomfield School, Tim Stobart and Helen Warner from Mecca Leeds (Mayfair) with children and staff from Broomfield School


s many Bingo Life readers will already know The Bingo Association has been supporting Variety the Children’s Charity since 2015, with amazing success, thanks to the support and hard work of bingo operators, club staff and the amazing generosity of bingo players up and down the country. The hard work and generosity has brought the total raised to date to over £1.3 million – a staggering amount of money! Following such a successful and popular


fundraising campaign, the Association has committed to supporting Variety for a further year, until the end of 2019, and is now looking to fulfil its pledge of raising a further £250,000. The main fundraising week has been set for the week of 2nd September, however many operators and clubs undertake a wide range of fundraising activities throughout the year. The Variety team are on standby to help clubs with ideas and to support them throughout the year: participating 25

FEATURE: VARIETY UPDATE clubs can contact Danielle Roche at Variety (e-mail: danielle.roche@variety.org.uk) for more information and ideas about fun fundraising activities and events. During the main week there will be a Bingo Loves Variety MCB Linked game, which independent clubs can take part in: Mecca and Buzz will be managing their own company fundraising mechanisms, which will make a great contribution towards the Association’s target. The contributions of all member clubs are hugely significant, as without this the Association would not achieve such an amazing fundraising total. On the open road – Variety Sunshine Coaches Over the past four years, the fantastic charity partnership between The Bingo Association and Variety, the Children’s Charity, has been lifechanging for organisations as well as disabled and disadvantaged children across the county. Thanks to the generosity of The Bingo Association, Variety has been able to supply 25 much-needed Sunshine Coaches to schools and organisations in need. The Bingo Association is delighted to announce that thanks to the continued support and generosity of operators, club staff and bingo players, they are able to sponsor a further three Variety Sunshine Coaches to special needs schools in Leeds, Wolverhampton and Newcastle: Broomfield School, Leeds Broomfield School is located in a severely deprived area of Leeds and caters for children up to 19, covering a range of disabilities including autism, wheelchair users and young people with complex medical issues. There are 211 children at the school, with plans to increase intake to 220. There are 143 staff and the staff/child ratio ranges from 1:1 to 3:1 depending if on or off site. Their specially adapted Sunshine Coach was presented to them on Thursday 23rd May and will be used every day to provide residential and educational visits, as well as give greater 26

access to play schemes, trips, sports and music activities. Sir Charles Parsons School, Newcastle Upon Tyne Sir Charles Parsons School is a special school that provides care for 182 students aged 11-19 years of age with profound and complex learning difficulties. A significant number of students have mobility issues and 26 are wheelchair users. The specially adapted Sunshine Coach was needed to replace their 16-year-old minibus, which had finally reached the end of its useful life. The new minibus was presented to the school on Wednesday 22nd May and will be used extensively every school day, as well as during the holidays and for after-school clubs. It will be taking students on residential and day visits, summer camp visits to the coast, curriculum visits to art centres, other schools for competitions /matches, and to work experience opportunities, college visits and courses. The Lawnswood Campus, Wolverhampton Friday 28th June 2019 The Campus is home to four Pupil Referral Units (PRUs) serving schools and the City of Wolverhampton. All four centres aim to work with students who find mainstream schooling a challenge and provide opportunities to help them make their next steps more positive. They have two Sunshine Coaches, and an additional one is needed so they can provide a vital transport link for some of the most vulnerable pupils with their centre. The minibus is due to be presented to the Unit on Friday 28th June and will be used every day including visits to outdoor education projects, The Duke of Edinburgh`s Award and National Trust visit. The coach will provide the children with many new opportunities to connect, enjoy and care for wild places through outdoor activities. The minibus presentations also give the Association an opportunity to invite local bingo clubs who have been part of the fundraising along, enabling them to see first hand where funds raised in their clubs go, the impact they make and to meet some of those who will benefit.

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Norman Fletcher GM Buzz Newcastle, Jackie Martin GM Buzz Wallsend, Karen Hamilton Headteacher Charles Parsons School, Mike Smith Operations Support Director Buzz Bingo, Jo Carter Director of Fundraising Variety, Ray Crawford Chair of Northern Committee Variety and children from Charles Parsons School

On the ball – Annual Charity Golf Day and Dinner The Bingo Association’s annual charity Golf Day took place on Thursday 6th June and returned to The Celtic Manor, South Wales. This is a great event for Association members, suppliers, golf fans and their guests, whereby more funds were raised for Variety and the day’s play celebrated, with awards presented after dinner. Full results can be found on The Bingo Association website. Celebrating 70 years of Variety. This year, 2019, is a big year for Variety, the Children’s Charity as they celebrate their 70th Anniversary. Variety was launched in the UK in 1949 with a dinner at The Savoy Hotel attended by HRH, The Duke of Edinburgh and film moguls, agents and www.bingolifemagazine.com

celebrities eager to donate their time and talent to help raise funds for children who were in need. Since then, more than £270 million has been raised by Variety in the UK. It has funded 5,000+ Sunshine Coaches, almost the same number of wheelchairs, provided thousands of grants to individual children and life-saving support for children’s hospitals, hospices and youth clubs. In addition, each year tens of thousands of children are taken on great days out by the wonderful Variety Great Days Out team. Every single day Variety does all it can to improve more young lives. More details about how Variety will be celebrating their 70th birthday will be announced later in the year, with details shared through social media: @VarietyGB 27

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Two Cherries: turning an idea into a visual language


hipley Creative are well known in the bingo and promotions world for quick production and delivery of marketing materials and integrated solutions, from DM to IM. Their secret weapon is that they are also home to a creative team, working across all formats, on hand seven days a week to help turn clients ideas into marketing materials and a visual language.

Upon meeting with Howard back in the summer of 2018, he explained to the Shipley team that he and his colleagues at IHL Tech had ambitions to bridge the gap between the CAT C pub landscape and an increasingly Cashless Society. He explained that he and his peers had a vision for how Two Cherries should be visually presented and wanted to enlist the expertise of Shipley Creative to bring this vision to life.

When Shipley Creative initially met with Howard Gant, CEO of IHL, he arrived with a big idea, Two Cherries, and a request that the team help create a visual identity to bring the brand to life.

Excited by the potential of the venture and armed with a strong industry recognisable name, Two Cherries, the team began the development of an exciting identity that would leave a memorable



FEATURE: SHIPLEY CREATIVE first impression. Both parties agreed that this identity should reflect where the gaming industry had been, using recognisable iconography and symbolism: the classic cherries graphic is iconic within fruit machine culture. Additionally, the identity had to embrace the digital direction in which the industry is heading: Two Cherries had to feel familiar to consumers but also fresh and appealing. Following consultation with Howard, Shipley Creative conducted a thorough investigation into what else was currently deployed in the industry and how it was being visually presented. Once the review of the current design trends within the gaming community was complete the Shipley Creative Team put pencil to paper, exhausting all the possible ways in which they could display the Two Cherries name, employing some obvious and some abstract solutions. Taking the most successful hand rendered designs they were digitized, developing an appropriate colour scheme throughout this process. At this stage of the development initial designs were shared with Howard and his team over at IHL. Using their feedback, picking out specific elements and ideas to develop, the selection was narrowed down to 4 options. Each of the 4 options were then experimented with, looking at alternate combinations of text and graphic styles to suit the needs and usability of the logo. To aid the process a series of product mock-ups displaying each of the options were

created. The branding was then applied to company stationery, app wireframes and the interface of a Cat C machine, to show how Two Cherries would be presented across multiple media platforms. These developments were shared with Howard and helped inform his decision on which identity would be most appropriate for the Two Cherries product. The chosen logo incorporated the cherry iconography into the words Two Cherries: providing a clean and contemporary brand that lends itself to the digital nature of the product whilst displaying a strong link to iconic fruit machine culture. Anthony Halliwell from Shipley Creative said, “The open minded, yet decisive approach to the process, by Howard and his team really propelled the project forward at a remarkable pace. To see a project go from two words and an idea to a working, functioning product has been an exciting experience and our working relationship with the guys over at IHL has continued to grow at a similar pace. “Since the completion of the Two Cherries Identity we have also developed an additional brand identity for IHL’s SmartHub service and marketing materials.” Shipley Creative aim to provide the perfect marketing mix for their clients and an in-house design team combined with killer production turnaround times and seven day a week operation is a winning combination.


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Sandton Convention Centre South Africa 2 - 3 October 2019

Shining a light on Africa’s gaming ecosystem

For more information and to register, visit www.iceafrica.za.com


Safer Gambling Standard


Paul Carpenter at ICE 2019

arlier this year GamCare, the leading provider of information, advice, and support for the prevention and treatment of problem gambling across Great Britain, launched its new Safer Gambling Standard: a social responsibility quality standard for the gambling industry.

gambling industry, making gambling safer for consumers. The new accreditation aims to recognise gambling operators who go above and beyond the requirements of gambling industry Licensing Codes and Conditions of Practice (LCCP) and comprises 10 sets of assessment criteria across online and land-based operations.

The Standard aims to drive up overall standards of social responsibility practice across the

The wide-reaching Standard has been designed to review organisational policies and procedures,


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“More and more gambling operators are realising that protecting customers from experiencing gambling related harm is key to running an ethical and sustainable business”

Mike Kenward

digital and in-person interactions, protections for young and vulnerable people, and the culture of the business regarding its approach to social responsibility. Paul Carpenter, Head of Industry Services at GamCare, said, “More and more gambling operators are realising that protecting customers from experiencing gambling related harm is key to running an ethical and sustainable business. We want gambling operators to embrace the Safer Gambling Standard, not just for the business and reputational benefits of doing so, but because demonstrating an effective approach to safer gambling is the right thing to do. The Standard is a quality mark that will signal that operators have customers at the heart of their businesses.” Genting UK plc were the first operator to embark on the accreditation process and were followed by bet365, Betsson Group, Buzz Group, Camelot UK Lotteries Ltd, In Touch Games and JPJ plc, with more operators coming on board daily. Bingo Life caught up with Mike Kenward, Development Director at GamCare, to find out more about the Standard and its progress to date: How does the Safer Gambling Standard differ from GamCare Certification? The Safer Gambling Standard builds on the work we have been doing to drive up standards in social responsibility and player protection through GamCare Certification, but the assessment process is wider-reaching and strives to recognise gambling operators who make an effort to go above and beyond the requirements of the LCCP. All operators who achieve the Standard will be www.bingolifemagazine.com

accredited for two years, with an annual review built in to ensure that the business continues to make progress. If an operator achieves the Standard, their achievement will be showcased on a dedicated customer-facing website due to be revealed later this year. So, what does the Standard assess? The Safer Gambling Standard assessment process involves a review of an operator’s policies and procedures, interviews with staff, website reviews and premises visits. The assessment examines a range of areas to get a true sense of an operator’s organisational culture, and how that culture is led from the top. 33

FEATURE: GAMCARE We look at ten criteria for both land-based and online operators: • Corporate governance and risk management • Collaboration and sharing Best Practice • Contribution to research, education and treatment for gambling-related harms • Protection of children and young adults • Customer information, profiling and interaction • Product design and innovation in safer gambling tools, including limit setting and reality checks • Self-exclusion • Advertising and promotion • Staff training and development • Addressing problem gambling amongst staff. How does the Standard apply to bingo operators? GamCare understands that many bingo operators are socially responsible and look to continually improve their approaches to minimising gambling harms, both for online and land-based businesses. GamCare supports bingo operators in this work through our training services as well as through the new Safer Gambling Standard. Some of the ways in which the Standard strives to make a difference include asking operators to provide a dedicated risk profile for customers aged 18–21 by taking into consideration the loyalty, bonus and free play promotions they offer, and by looking at how they incorporate player protection into their training and development programmes. The Standard is for operators of all sizes, established and new, from those seeking an external audit to ensure they are LCCP compliant to those seeking a roadmap towards best practice. We go through a full scoping meeting with each operator to get to grips with the companies, sites and premises in their portfolio to fully understand the scale of their business, and to provide a practical approach to accreditation. Have you seen engagement with the Standard from bingo operators already? Yes, bingo operators have already begun to embrace the Safer Gambling Standard – not just 34

About GamCare

GamCare operates the National Gambling HelpLine on Freephone 0808 8020 133 or via web chat at www.gamcare.org.uk, providing information, advice and support for anyone affected by problem gambling, funded by GambleAware. Advisers are available 8am – Midnight, seven days a week. GamCare also provides a range of free treatment (face to face, online or over the phone) for anyone affected by problem gambling across England, Scotland and Wales, funded by GambleAware, as well as Forum and daily chatrooms so that people can speak to others experiencing similar issues and seek support. GamCare’s new strategy is available to download at www.gamcare.org.uk/ publications, along with their latest Annual Review and Statistics. for the business and reputational benefits of doing so, but because demonstrating an effective approach to safer gambling is the right thing to do. We have bingo operators already signed up and part way through the accreditation process, such as the Buzz Bingo, and we would be very happy to help and support other operators to get underway. More and more operators are realising that demonstrating that they can protect their customers from experiencing gambling related harm is vital to running an ethical and sustainable business. The Standard is a quality mark that will signal that operators have customers at the heart of their businesses. For more information visit www.gamcare.org.uk/training-andaccreditation/safer-gambling-standard issue 030


Receiving you loud and clear: Willow Communications celebrates 30 years


illow Communications are a familiar name in the bingo industry, delivering leading audio visual solutions to the leisure and entertainment industry, from their Northampton HQ. Celebrating their 30th Anniversary this year, Bingo Life caught up with founder and MD, Stephen Barlow. When did Willow Communications start? Willow was started by myself and my wife, Sally, as we were both looking to do something different in our lives. I had spent eight years as a Head of Sound in Theatre and Sally was selling Volvos. So, we took the plunge, quit our jobs and started Willow when we landed our first client, Queens Park Rangers FC, where we installed their stadium sound system. www.bingolifemagazine.com

How have you found running your own business? Interesting. Every day is still a new challenge, a new adventure. We are very fortunate in that we have great clients whose businesses allow us to work in exciting and technically demanding sectors, so every day is different. We have always re-invested in our business and into the team at Willow. The last couple of years have seen a major shift in our focus, and by the end of this year we anticipate we will have as many people working in our IT and Media team as we do in our engineering team. Tell us more about Willow and your involvement in Bingo? Willow have been involved in retail bingo since 35

FEATURE: WILLOW COMMUNICATIONS installations followed at Dagenham and Southend where BiGD was installed and following positive comments from operators and more importantly, customers, Mecca give us the instruction to roll BiGD into the full estate. 2018 was probably the busiest we have been in Bingo for several years. We completed a couple of landmark installations last year: • We rolled out our Digital Booksales platform into Buzz Bingo. This involved installing 750 2K Philips screens into the estate: these provide live and dynamic Booksales pricing and general marketing throughout the club. • We completed our first 4K screen deployment into retail bingo with the distributed HD system at Majestic Bingo at Barrow-in-Furness. This too exclusively used Philips displays and transformed the club and customer experience. And this has continued into 2019 with large installations already completed for Carlton at Fife Leisure Park and Shipleys at Bristol.

1992 when we completed the audio-visual installation for Gala Bingo at their Colchester new build. We then spent a very busy few years working with Gala’s Colin Brookes, rolling out the Gala 1600 format clubs. I personally learnt so much from Colin during these years, not just about bingo, but in projects and project management. We are fortunate that we still count (Gala) Buzz Bingo as one of our clients. For the next seventeen years our core business in bingo was installing audio-visual equipment (sound and assisted hearing systems, screens and lighting), but this changed significantly in 2009 when we pitched a stage display system idea to John O’Toole at Mecca Bingo. We had been working with John on the Mecca Full House design for Oldbury and John took the plunge and agreed to trial BiGD. A couple more Full House 36

BiGD has been installed now for a decade in Retail Bingo Operations, what are amongst the latest upgrades and new features of the latest version and have a lot of these new features been created over the years in partnership with operators? BiGD – Bingo Information Graphical Display – has been proven to be a reliable display system, taking live game information and displaying it in a rich and dynamic media format on hall screens. Over the years we have added several features such as background music and jingle control, and a digital signage package. We are fortunate that our customers are always forward thinking and are open to new ideas and developments. At the start of this year I ran through some ideas we had with Mark and Eric at Majestic and this luckily tied in with their vision of bringing the fun and theatre back to bingo. Fast forward a few months and we have just completed a roll out to the Majestic estate of BiGD and our Digital Booksales platform.

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“We never ever take anything for granted. We are only as good as our last installation or our last piece of content. We are always looking for fresh ideas and better ways to do things internally and for our clients. Plus, we love what we do, which helps!” The latest version of BiGD which Majestic now have adds a number of gaming functions such as jackpot draw and display mechanisms, the ability to set up and run local and linked bingo games, untethered host control and print on demand facilities. Investment in research and development balanced with customer service and support and new business is a major balancing act, especially in an organisation like Willow that has clearly made considerable investments in its R&D. So is the next phase of the company involving more technicians to handle the growing work load? You can never sit still in our industry. We took the view some time ago at Willow that the AV industry as we know it was done for. AV is now a subdivision of the IT industry. A simple example www.bingolifemagazine.com

is in how we communicate the information to screens. Historically this has been done via a coaxial cable, now the information is delivered via a Cat6 cable. At Willow we have a rapidly growing and young IT and Media team and it is this team that is really driving our business. We retain and are expanding our skilled inhouse engineering team who complete all our installations. We also strongly believe in partnering with key suppliers. We have a fantastic relationship with Philips who provide the most visible hardware element of our work in bingo – the screens. We have just this month signed an exclusive deal with Philips which now provides our customers who buy Philips commercial TVs from us a three-year on-site warranty. This is a significant warranty to be able to offer in an industry where the integrity of the screen display is so important. Your organisation’s products have applications in a number of associated sectors in leisure and entertainment. With bingo, Willow Communications has had a very long and happy relationship. What do you think are amongst some of the reasons? We never ever take anything for granted. We are only as good as our last installation or our last piece of content. We are always looking for fresh ideas and better ways to do things internally and for our clients. Plus, we love what we do which helps!


Bring bingo into the future Make your mark with dynamic digital displays

From your foyer, through the heart of your hall and into your retail and food outlets, Philips professional displays bring a brighter future for bingo. With a wide range of sizes and features, coupled with timely and targeted content via Willow’s BiGD media players, our digital signage works to create a seamless experience for your customers. Discover our range, designed to deliver impactful brand building and an enhanced customer experience to keep them coming back for more. www.philips.co.uk/p-m-pr/professional-displays/entertainment


It’s Bingo Joan, but not as you know it!


ingo has been around for quite some time and as a product it is in rude health: that is to say the game is still significantly appealing.

In resent years there have been a number of new interpretations of the game that have proved popular and found new audiences, quite different to those that you might expect to be bingo fans: glow sticks, club music, rock and roll rebels, fabulous ping pong ball blowers and platform shoes are not usually to be found in your traditional contemporary bingo club. From Rebel Bingo, with their rock and roll vibe, to Bongos Bingo with their club energy taking the game to London, Brisbane, Sydney, Bordeaux, Nantes, Paris, Ibiza, Birmingham, Hull and Gorleston-on-Sea to name but few locations: the www.bingolifemagazine.com

joy of bingo is being discovered by a new breed of player. While some of the new bingo nights have taken the game in the direction of club nights and music gigs, the latest are presenting bingo in the context of comedy nights, supper clubs and good old fashioned showmanship. Dabbers Bingo, in Shoreditch, London claims to be ‘the UK’s first and only purpose built, contemporary bingo hall’, something that many operators would dispute, that is bringing the beautiful game back with a bang. Open 7 days a week, it boasts a range of themed nights and sessions: Odd Ball Bingo, High Stakes Bingo, Vintage Bingo, Bawlers’ Bingo, Pick’n’mix Bingo, Bingo Voyage, Dabbers Brunch Club, Bingo Bonanza and Disco Bingo. Each themed session 39

FEATURE: IT’S BINGO JOAN The room, full to capacity, had a mixed audience of groups coming from work, friends and some couples out for the evening. Our compere was brilliant and seemed to know a few of the audience already. He introduced the comedian and co-host. As bingo regulars, familiar with all kinds of tickets, Bluff My Box was a new format for us all, using 60 numbers.

boast an incredible line-up of talented performers, featuring comedians, musicians and of course a talented host. This is cocktails and food with a side of bingo showmanship: at the centre of the madness and taking centre stage is their one-off custom-built ball blowing machine – a sight to behold! Dabbers is all about fun and they invite players to join them in a world of play: from custom cocktails to tasty food served at your table, this is all about the experience and participation. It is also still very much about winning and the prizes, though the more unusual the prize, the more it seems to be appreciated. Their mission is to celebrate community by creating one that’s open to anyone with a dabber and to provide perfect value with a full evening’s worth of entertainment and memories that last a lot longer. As they say, there’s a reason bingo has stood the test of time.

The Bluff My Box ticket offered five separate boxes of numbers, four coloured and one BLUFF BOX. The first to complete any box in full stopped the game by calling bingo and claimed a prize: once the prize for a box had been claimed, that box was no longer in play. Prizes included Kipper Flip Flops, which the recipient was delighted with, a mini lava lamp seemed to be less well received, while a beach towel resembling a chicken drumstick went down a storm. When it came to the Bluff Box they were looking for the first two players to complete their boxes in full. We finally had our two winners: the choice presented to the first winner was to either accept the prize offered, on this occasion Bluetooth speakers, or take the prize in the Bluff Box. Whichever one they did not chose went to the second winner. Apparently, the most popular option is the Bluff Box. The game was not completed quickly, but there was lots of laughter and fun. The session also included two further games, which were a little more traditional other than the time they took to complete – this is bingo as a show and a very

Bingo Life decided to try it out on a Wednesday night, for a session of Bawlers’ Bingo. We arrived promptly at 18:30, allowing plenty of time to settle in and enjoy an Espresso Martini or two. The food menu was tempting, with orders being placed for THE BIG DAB, their half pound Angus burger, as well as lighter bites including pumpkin and spinach falafel and sweet potato fries. All was consumed and a further order for drinks placed just in time for the bingo to start: or should that be show. 40

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entertaining show it is. In talking with some of the players we discovered that while there were one or two people who were members of regular bingo clubs the majority were not and had never been to bingo before, with the general consensus being that that they didn’t know bingo was so much fun! Mecca is not a new name in bingo, being the GB’s second largest licensed operator, and they too are exploring how they can expand the appeal of the robust and popular product, while also increasing use of their venues: welcome PLAYERS – the original bingo experience. PLAYERS is a brand new night-time bingo experience aimed at a younger audience who want a great night out with their friends and the opportunity to win prizes. PLAYERS aims to introduce bingo to a new younger generation, with great food and drinks, and a range of live entertainment including comedy and music acts. The cocktail menu offers classics, as well as some specially concocted tipples with a nod to www.bingolifemagazine.com

some bingo stereotypes: we particularly like the Blue Rinse, rum, blue curacao, coconut cream, pineapple juice with an ice cream crown. With a changing roster of pop-up restaurant partners, we caught clublands favourite street food caterers Eat Meat Cheese Repeat. Barry Lyons, Mecca Bingo’s Head of Customer Events and Entertainment said, “This is an exciting time for Mecca as we move into a new era of bingo entertainment. We’ve always been proud to be at the forefront of evolving the competitive socialising landscape and Players will be the next big brand to take the space by storm.” Initially trialled at Mecca Camden Town, London, Players very much seeks to put the fun, entertainment and showmanship back into a night at bingo. For more information visit: Dabbers Bingo - www.dabbers.bingo Players Bingo - www.players-bingo.com 41


Two Mikes, One Game

Mike Sime and Mike Smith


hey say that birds of a feather flock together, but up until now Bingo Life was unsure if this maxim extended to the work place: we have, as they say, living proof that it does. It can’t be purely coincidence that Mike Smith and Mike Sime, who also share the same initials as well as first name, have gravitated towards similar professional positions, in the gambling industry and both in bingo: albeit on opposing teams? In the name of research we decided to investigate further, with, we are pleased to report, the full cooperation of the Mikes:


Mike Smith, Operations Support Director, Buzz Bingo: Where were you born and where do you currently live? Born in Manchester and currently live in a small village called Normanton on Trent in North Nottinghamshire between Lincoln and Nottingham. Where did you go to school? I went to school at Oldham: Royton and Crompton Comprehensive School to be exact. It’s still going, though now known as Royton and Crompton Academy.


FEATURE: THE TWO MIKES What were your favourite subjects at School? PE was my favourite (like most teenagers) I also enjoyed history. While neither subject has played a key role in career I did enjoy them both and the love of sport and activities has stayed with me to this day. Where did you go to college and what did you study? I went to Stockport College, which was affiliated to Manchester University at the time and studied Building Construciton. The college is still going and is now part of the Telford College Group. What sort of work did you think you might go into when you joined the working ranks? I was always undecided about what I wanted to do when I was in school and even after leaving I remained undecided: like many people at that age I had no strong calling and felt I needed to get to know a bit more about the world and the world of work. Bingo was certainly not on the horizon at that time. What did you parents do for work? Was there any connection to entertainment, gambling or bingo? My dad was a wholesale furrier and had a business/showroom on Lever Street in Manchester City Centre and my mother worked in insurance in her early career, before then returning to be an office clerk after my dad passed away. In fact neither my mum nor my gran went to bingo, so no real connection to gambling, entertainment or leisure in the family. What was your first job out of college? I worked for Oldham Metropolitan Borough Council as an Assistant Building Control Officer, making use of my college training, and in the evenings as a swimming instructor. Following that what areas/sectors did you then work in? Something about building work did not click for me and I went straight into bingo, joining as a Trainee Manager at the then Top Rank (now Mecca) Club in Halifax: the General Manager at the time was a lady called Janette McCracken. 44

Why did you apply? Having completed college I knew that I wanted a job with prospects and a career path: I applied to be a Trainee Manager with the Rank Organisation, not knowing that the actual position was in a bingo club! The first interview was in the Halifax club and it just all felt right - I fell in love with the industry from that first visit and have never ever looked back or regretted that move since. My job at the time of applying with the council was ok, but I saw much more opportunity working and reaching my potential in the private sector and particularly in this industry. Did you know anyone already involved in the industry? No, no one who was working in the industry: my then mother-in-law was an avid player, but it was the job opportunity that initially appealed. What were your thoughts then about bingo v what you know today? I still believe now as I did then that it’s a fantastic industry to work in and I would do it all again. Social interaction still plays a huge part in the business and clubs are great places to work in. While we did have more admission in the 90s, bingo remains a robust and popular product. Technology has over the years increased the scope of its role, which is both a good and bad thing. What are jobs/posts you have held in Bingo? Starting as Trainee, then Assistant Manager before being General Manager, with Mecca, Riva and Gala respectively. Then in Gala I moved on on to Business Development Manager, Head of Customer Experience, Regional Manager, Head of Gaming Performance and now my current position Operations Support Director. When did you join your present company and in what role and department? I’ve been with Buzz Bingo from the start! Nearly 12 months now and I’ve been Operations Support Director during that time. Of course prior to that I was with Gala. What do you like most about your current job? issue 030

FEATURE: THE TWO MIKES Helping our clubs and solving challenges before they land – serving our GMs and clubs: there is such a great variety of challenges and being part of a great, dynamic team at Buzz. I also enjoy the aspect of my work that enables me to work across the industry, with the likes of Mecca and Castle and all the independent operators, through organisations like the National Bingo Game and The Bingo Association: looking at things from an industry perspective as well as that of an operator is really interesting and helps share best practice. What do you like least about your job? The rare occasions where I need to read an incident report, where our staff or customers have been impacted. Have you played bingo Online? And did you win? Yes and Yes. When did you first play bingo? With my ex mother-in-law in 1995 at the old Mecca Social Club in Oldham, on Union Street, when I was in the process of applying for a role with the company. When did you last play bingo in a club? In our offices last week, we play after each CEO period update. I can’t play in Buzz Clubs so the last time I played in a proper club a few weeks ago at Mecca in Chesterfield. Are you paper or electronics? A bit of both: I lean towards electronic but can’t see us losing the paper offer during my career. Best thing on the current Buzz Bingo menu: F&B? Easy - Hunters Chicken, although I do like the Chicken Salad they do for customers in Buzz Bingo Harpurhey, Manchester. Winner Winner! During your time in the sector (gambling/ bingo), what do you think are the three biggest changes you have seen? Easily top of the list has to be the smoking ban, though now it seems odd to think of smoking inside. Next it would be the introduction of www.bingolifemagazine.com

electronic bingo, closely followed by the change in machines over the last 20 years. What do you think are the three biggest challenges facing club bingo presently? Admissions, admissions and admissions, followed by competition for the leisure pound. What do you think are the most exciting developments on the horizon for bingo right now? Improving the customer experience through creative deployment of technology, to enhance interactions and leisure experience. All time favourite film? As Good as It Gets, with Jack Nicholson: comedy genius. What are you hobbies and interests outside of work? I like to run, it’s the PE from school: I have completed 7 London Marathons, all for charity. I also like to cycle and walk my two dogs, Georgie and Layla: maybe all the exercise is to combat my love of fine food! In addition I am a footie fan, and yes: Manchester United. Mike Sime, Head of Gaming, Mecca Bingo Where were you born and where do you live? Born in Wythenshawe Hospital, South Manchester. Noel Gallagher was in the cot next to me, and I currently live near Bromsgrove in 45

FEATURE: THE TWO MIKES Worcestershire: conveniently halfway between our Maidenhead office and the Etihad Stadium. (BL editor senses may be a football ref?) Where did you go to school? Kings School Macclesfield, which is still going, though now it’s a posh private school, which it wasn’t when I attended: posh or private that is.. What were your favourite subjects at School? Economics and mathematics, neither of which are obvious routes to a career in bingo, but are more connected the industry than many will realise – it came in particularly handy for calculating prize money. Where did you go to college and what did you study? University of Sunderland, to study for a BSc (Hons) in Economics and Computing: highly relevant in the modern bingo world. Howard Gant from IHL also attended, although I might have been there a year or two (or more) before him. What sort of work did you think you might go into when you joined the working ranks? I always fancied being a lawyer, however when I realised how much studying there would be and for how long it lost its appeal. What did you parents do for work? My Dad was a chemist, so not even vaguely related to leisure and entertainment or gambling.

What was your first job out of college? I worked for a large expensive retail fashion chain, which I found extremely dull. It did little to improve my sartorial style but did teach me an awful lot about how shoplifters operate. Following that what areas/sectors did you work in? There was nothing else – after my first foray into the world of work it was then straight into bingo at the tender age of 22. What was your first job in bingo and for who? I used to work as a part-time Team Member at my local Top Rank Club in Macclesfield during the holidays whilst at college before then joining Top Rank as a Trainee Manager in London several years later. Why did you apply? I had really enjoyed working as a Team Member in a club: it was superb. When I saw the job advert for Trainee Managers for Top Rank (now Mecca) I couldn’t fill my application in quick enough. Did you know anyone already involved in the industry? No – not prior to my part time role, and even when applying for the Trainee post I only knew people in the club I had worked in, certainly no family or friends involved in the business. What were your thoughts then about bingo v what you know today? Probably then, I had no idea really about the industry, especially the social aspect of our clubs and the important part that they play within their communities. I knew the business but not the community. What are jobs/posts you have held in Bingo? I was a Support Manager for a couple of years learning my trade, then I was a General Manager for approximately 10 years, managing various clubs in and around London, the South East and the West Midlands. I then became Mecca’s Area Manager for the North West & North Midlands region, working


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FEATURE: THE TWO MIKES with a team of superbly talented General Managers for about 7 years, before commencing my current role as Head of Gaming 3 years ago. What do you like most about your current job? In my role I get the opportunity to develop new games and products. Seeing the positive customer feedback post launch makes all the planning and meticulous testing of the games all seem worthwhile. I was also lucky enough to work on the development of the new 10 number National Bingo Game with colleagues from the NBGA, Buzz Bingo and Castle. This game has been a resounding success and has put the National Bingo Game firmly back on the map as the pinnacle of each bingo session. What do you like least about your job? It’s always sad when we close a club, it feels that the community has lost an asset. Irresponsible advertising by other sectors of the gambling industry also does make my blood boil: the reputational damage they do is extremely unhelpful and ultimately brings little if any rewards. Have you played bingo Online? And did you win? Yes, I regularly look at what games and products the major online bingo sites offer: it’s always interesting to see what games appeal to online players. When did you first play bingo? When I became a Trainee Manager during my first week I was packed off to play bingo at the local competition. I had no idea what was going on, the caller went off like a runaway train and I had no idea what ticket we should have been playing, it was a terrible first experience. That was 26 years ago and hopefully we’ve improved as an industry, but I’m sure that we can keep reviewing and improving our new customer experience. When did you last play bingo in a club? About two weeks ago at my local Buzz Bingo club. I didn’t blend in very well as a member approached me and asked me if I was the manager: maybe you develop a ‘bingo look’ over time. www.bingolifemagazine.com

Are you paper or electronics? Old school paper I’m afraid, but don’t tell Rob Brown who’s in my team and looks after our electronic product! There is room for that too, but for me it’s paper and dabber time. Best thing on your current menu: F&B? We’ve just added Harry Ramsden’s fish and chips to our menu. It’s absolutely delicious and the customer feedback has been excellent. You can even order it as a takeaway or as a home delivery! During your time in the sector (gambling/ bingo), what do you think are the three biggest changes you have seen? The introduction of electronic bingo post smoking ban, and the broadening of the wider leisure market: there are far more options for people to spend their leisure time on, even in their own home. Plus, online bingo/gambling, offering the opportunity to play when and where you want. What do you think are the three biggest challenges facing club bingo presently? Broadening the appeal of bingo to a wider audience to arrest the ongoing challenge of shrinking attendances. Ensuring that bingo is perceived as a social pastime and is not subjected to any legislative changes that could be catastrophic for the industry. 47

FEATURE: THE TWO MIKES who would have been less likely to visit one of our venues. For more info check out the videos of Bonkers Bingo, Batty Bingo, Players Bingo and our Rewind events on Mecca’s Facebook page. All time favourite film? Forrest Gump, such a clever film both funny and sad. Plus, Forrest reminds me of Buzz Bingo’s Mike! What are you hobbies and interests outside of work? I enjoy reading and running (slowly) and also taking my daughters to watch Manchester City, where they have seen them win as many trophies as I have despite me supporting them for 30+ years more than them.

Ensuring that as an industry we exceed our social responsibility obligations by protecting our most vulnerable players, through having in place robust intervention processes. What do you think are the most exciting developments on the horizon for bingo right now? At Mecca we have been working on a few entertainment-based events that have successfully appealed to a younger age profile

Despite being on opposing teams, literally in regard to where they work and the football teams they support, Forest Gump reference aside, the Mikes actually get along and have quite a lot in common, not just the National Bingo Game! So what have we learned? Based on a very limited, but co-operative sample of two, the chances of longevity and success in a career in bingo may be enhanced by some or all of the following: • Haling from north of Watford • Having no prior connection to the leisure, entertainment or gambling industries • Shunning your initial studies and career path, in pursuit of something more exciting • Having a love of people and front of house work • Being a team player who enjoys collaborative work and challenges • Having more than a passing interest in sport – as participant and/or spectator • Sharing a love of the beautiful game (bingo, not football) • Never wanting to leave. We would like to thank both the Mikes for participating in our research. Our next challenge will be to see if this theory stands up north of the boarder with Carlton Bingo’s Mike – Mr Watret.


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Profile for Casino Life Magazine

Bingo Life Summer 2019 Issue 30  


Bingo Life Summer 2019 Issue 30