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BINGOLife Winter 2016 - Issue 24






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BINGOLife Published by ACE Publishing Ltd

Editorial Editor in Chief - Glyn Thomas Mob: +380 952 705 596 glyn@ace123.com Editor - Miles Baron miles@ace123.com Associate Editor - Janice Chaka Guadalajara - janice@ace123.com

Correspondents Asia - Bill Healey bill@ace123.com Europe - Andrew Behan abehan@ace123.com International - Damien Connelly dconnelly@ace123.com UK - Naomi Green naomi@ace123.com USA - Jack Bulavsky Las Vegas - jack@ace123.com

Production Design - Stewart Hyde stewart@totaldesignworks.com www.totaldesignworks.com

Welcome to the December issue of Bingo Life and the last for 2016: it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas! We hope that you enjoy the issue and look forward to sharing news and stories with you in 2017. If there is an idea or topic that you wish to share then be sure to let us know. We look forward to seeing everyone at ICE 2017. Happy Holidays!

Webmaster and IT - Sudip Banjaree sb@ace123.com ExCeL, London 7-9 February 2017

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

the world theatre of gaming

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

To join the world at ICE visit icetotallygaming.com






Contents 1

Welcome to Bingo Life Autumn 2016 Miles Baron


Editor Foreword Miles Baron

5 A very different kind of show Karen Cooke – Organiser, EAG International and the Visitor Attraction Expo 7 What’s in a Label To White Label or Not: By Simon Jones, Commercial Director, Whichbingo 9

News Round Up

14 Kicking the Gambling Blues By Dan Waugh, Principal Consultant Regulus Partners 15 Obituary: Richard Cave 16 All Party, All Bingo Bingo Life meets the new Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Bingo, Anna Turley MP 20 Bingo Loves Variety


26 16 26 Passion Meets Purpose Alan Morgan chats to Casino Life about his new role at the forefront of Mecca 28 Accelerating the pace of change Sarah Harrison Chief Executive Gambling Commission 30 Why ICE is the ‘World theatre of gaming’ Peter White chats to Kate Chambers Managing Director ICE Totally Gaming

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

issue 024


EDITOR’S Foreword Miles Baron, Chief Executive, The Bingo Association


016 is drawing rapidly to a close and again it has been a busy and challenging year for the industry.

It is nearly two years since we published The Association’s first Code of Conduct and Operators’ Handbook, and constant revisions need to be made, reflecting the pace of change and increased regulatory requirements. However, the agenda for 2017 looks set to be a continuation of 2016, with Social Responsibility remaining firmly centre stage and the regulator looking at how best to move operators forward more quickly and ensuring the consumer is at the heart of everything they do. The Commission Chief Executive Sarah Harrison has made the position in regard to these matters quite clear, challenging the GB gambling sector to become the most trusted in the world. The last few months of 2016 saw a flurry of activity around consultations on the Triennial Review and low risk exemptions for AMLD. The Association is hopeful that it will be successful in achieving a low risk exemption, as the burden of enhanced due diligence would be considerable. www.bingolifemagazine.com

Despite a challenging year The Association, with the support of its members, suppliers and bingo players, has been able to move forward: • Organisation’s membership has increased to 90% of all licensed bingo premises • The industry self-exclusion scheme was developed and implemented, ahead of schedule. • Record breaking fundraising year for Variety, the children’s charity • An active role in the evolution of IGRG and supporting its key work streams. Following the success of fundraising in this second year of support for Variety, the Association has committed to a third year. The longer term aim is to have raised over £1m over four years but let’s take one year at a time for now. Finally I would like to wish everyone a Happy Christmas and to say that I am looking forward to continuing the work of The Association in the year ahead. 3





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issue 024


A very different kind of show Karen Cooke – Organiser, EAG International and the Visitor Attraction Expo


t’s hard to believe, but EAG International will be eight years old in January; where has all of that time gone?

Karen Cooke Managing Director Swan Events

In fact EAG follows a long tradition of an amusements and coin-op show in London at the start of the New Year; a perfect time for operators to compare notes, to reflect on the previous year’s business and lay plans for the next. It’s good for us, as organisers, to pause and reflect on EAG’s role, and what it means to those taking part. EAG has a unique identity, primarily because, through bacta, it‘s owned by the industry it serves. We’re not part of a large commercial portfolio and in a world of bigger, better, faster, more, we’re able to take a different perspective. We see our role as that of a facilitator or catalyst for the industry, so we need to stay close to everyone involved. We achieve this through regular meetings of an Advisory Board and also the individual relationships and long experience that our team members have within many facets of the industry. There’s a good deal of empathy but it’s vital that we’re also accessible; an appearance at EAG is a significant commitment, particularly for some of the smaller exhibitors, so they need to be confident that any queries or concerns are dealt with promptly. EAG is particularly unusual in that we help our exhibitors to syndicate news and product information. We have an international network of news-hungry media supporters and even help exhibitors with producing releases! New for 2017 we’ve produced a series of in-depth articles for trade publications, highlighting products appearing at the show. We’re not aware of any other expo that gives free access to this level of media support but to us it’s all part of the package for exhibitors and other participating organisations. People come to EAG for a variety of reasons, be it to exhibit or see the latest products, to participate in seminars, to attend meetings or to catch up with industry peers. Our role is to ensure that their needs are met and that their experience is overwhelmingly www.bingolifemagazine.com

positive. To effectively deliver this, we have to be part of the industry we serve; we can’t just duck in our out. At the end of a busy show, I’m sometimes asked what we do for the rest of the year! The truth is that EAG International is a continuous process; we may draw breath for a day or two and then we just carry on!


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What’s in a Label? To White Label or not By Simon Jones, Commercial Director, Whichbingo


ccording to WhichBingo (www.whichbingo. co.uk/sites/) there are now over 450 licenced online bingo brands in the UK market. The vast majority of these brands are small whitelabel sites, sitting together on networks to give them greater liquidity and larger prize pools, allowing them to compete with the bigger operators.

could easily end up launching.

While they’re unlikely to ever gain the market dominance of a Gala or Mecca, these white label operators have been known to earn themselves a significant number of players and turn a healthy profit, thanks to low operating costs and smart marketing techniques.

So what does a network supplier do for you if you want to launch a bingo site? All of the standard tasks are carried out by the software provider; player registration, financial processing (deposits, payments, pay outs etc.), basic CRM (welcome emails, standard promotions etc.), customer support, game management and scheduling, chat management, hosting and licensing.

Whilst actually launching a bingo skin is fairly straightforward, this is a market that at one end is dominated by around a dozen major brands, and at the other end is swamped by the sort of ‘me too’ product that you www.bingolifemagazine.com

White labels by their very nature are essentially the same bingo product. Your role is to repackage it and to drive traffic to your website. If you can do this bit well, there is no reason why you cannot be successful. The rest, essentially, is handled by the network provider.

Is the market flooded and saturated? Yes. Can you still make money? Yes. Is it easy to make substantial profit? Actually, no, although it is achievable. 7

ONLINE BINGO: WHICH BINGO STEP 1: CHOOSE A NETWORK PROVIDER There are three main software companies that provide white label network solutions; Cozy Games, Dragonfish (part of the 888 empire) and Jumpman Gaming. Each will offer a slightly different product, but all will provide you with a complete networked service whereby your main responsibility is to brand the website and drive traffic. Everything beyond that is usually covered by the software provider. Speak with all three and then decide which is the best fit for your business. Each has different qualities of games available, but the real success comes from how you market your product. STEP 2: DESIGN YOUR BRAND This is the step where you need to take the most time, money and effort, as it will be crucial for the success of your bingo site. White-labels are essentially the same product, and so coming up with a brand name and then designing an attractive looking website is of paramount importance. Choosing a domain name that hasn’t been used before can be tricky, but there have been several examples of bingo sites with unusual names doing very well with players. If you have the money to invest, do so in the graphics and design of your website more than anywhere else. Players make decisions within seconds of viewing your site for the first time, and our advice is not to go with the standard cookie-cutter layout that you may be offered as a default. Sites such as Ted Bingo, Mummies Bingo and Woolly Bingo are great examples of white-label sites designed well, with themes that have resonated with the bingo playing audience. A great theme makes it easier when marketing your site after launch. STEP 3: LAUNCH and DRIVE TRAFFIC Once your site is live, it is your continuing role to drive players to visit your site. As a new site, there will be a great deal of interest early on and you need to take advantage of this by working with the major bingo affiliates (such as WhichBingo) to promote your new brand to their audience. Ensure you have set your brand up on social media, particularly Facebook as this is where the majority of online bingo interaction takes place, compared to other networks such as twitter or Instagram. Facebook advertising is another channel you could harness for 8

some cost-effective promotion, filtering to people who have already shown an interest in online bingo. COST As you would expect, costs to launch and run a white label site vary between suppliers, but they are open for negotiation. However you would expect your costs to break down into three areas; a one-off set-up cost, a monthly management fee (what this covers will vary) and a monthly revenue-share based commission fee. IN CONCLUSION Online bingo is a busy, very competitive, saturated market, but despite this, there are still opportunities out there. If you’re looking for more information on starting up your own bingo site, you will find a much more in-depth analysis at https://www.whichbingo.co.uk/lobby/ launch-online-bingo-business/ - including Q&As with the three software providers mentioned as well and interviews with independent product owners who have seen big success with their white-label ventures. issue 024


Gala Gallops ahead with latest club refurbishment at Barkingside and Bradford

Gala Bingo have had a busy fourth quarter, with the latest round of refurbished clubs opening to both happy existing members and many new. Gala Bingo Barkingside held its re-launch party on Saturday 22 October, with a weekend of celebrations following the recent investment of £300,000 in the club. The club was officially opened by five team members, who between them have worked at Gala Barkingside for 100 years! Prasha Rajakone General Manger at Barkingside said, “We are thrilled to be able to spend money reinvesting in our club and excited to share these new features with all of customers. We’re very much looking forward to opening the doors, showing customers these much improved facilities for

the first time;it demonstrates that Gala Bingo leads by example as a modern day leisure pursuit.” Gala Bingo Bradford held its celebrations on the weekend of 28-31 October, opening the newly refurbished club in Tong Street, showing off the great result of a £450,000 investment in the club, which brought the introduction of table top electronic tables, which according to General Manger Jo Wyper customers have loved. ‘NEW LOOK’ clubs have benefitted from extended arcade areas, fully refurbished main hall, new upholstery on improved seating and colourful new carpets.

£146,000 JACKPOT WIN Gala Bingo winner kick-starts the festive season! Christmas came early for one lady and Gala Washington regular, who had the best early Christmas present: a Jackpot win of £145,718! On Tuesday 29th November, the lucky lady paid £1 to play the Club’s regular ‘Rise & Shine’ game; she also paid an extra £2 to purchase chances to win the progressive Jackpot on the game. Having called full house on the link game with one of her lucky numbers, she was overwhelmed to find out that she not only claimed the house prize but also the largest jackpot prize amount to be won in Club. The lucky winner, who wished to remain anonymous said, “When I called for the ‘Full House’ on one of my lucky numbers, I jumped up for joy, I couldn’t believe it! I had to sit myself down afterwards, I thought my

legs were going to give way with all the excitement. My Mother was with me at the time to celebrate my win. I plan to firstly pay off my mortgage. The rest of the prize money will sit in the bank until I decide what to do with it. I love playing at my local club, it’s not just about winning, it’s about having a great time with friends and family.” Steve Forman General Manager at Gala Bingo Washington, commented: “We’re absolutely delighted for our winner, she has been a regular customer for several years and these big jackpot wins are hard to come by, especially on a national level. We wish her all the best with her prize money.”

www.bingolifemagazine.com 9

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issue 024


Majestic Bingo crowns its first Bingo Caller of the Year


even contestants battled it out on stage in November, in a bid to be crowned Majestic Bingo’s first ever Bingo Caller of the Year.

Each entrant had five minutes on stage to entertain the 230 strong crowd before going on to call a game of bingo. With the standard of calling so high, the judges faced a tough decision awarding the top three coveted prizes, a £250 1st prize, a £100 2nd prize and a £50 3rd prize. First place was awarded to Rob Spencer from Ritz Bingo in Castleford, after his rendition of the classic ol’ blue eyes song, The Lady is a Tramp. Rob started working in bingo aged 16 for Kingsway in Hemsworth. He worked there for just under two years before joining the army. After leaving the army he joined Ritz Bingo Castleford where he has enjoyed working for nearly eight years, he said “I am a massive Frank Sinatra fan, even my six year old boy knows the words to the song I chose to perform.” Second place went to Jason Dale from Apollo Bingo in Barrow-in-Furness, for his version of Billy Ray Cyrus’ Achy Breaky Heart. Jason has been in the bingo industry for 21 years, having called link games for 17 of them. In this time he reached the regional final of the National Bingo Caller of the Year competition, he said of his job, “I just love to make people winners!” Third place was awarded to Billy Beswick from Hippodrome, in Bishop Auckland, who chose to perform Let Her Go by Passenger. Billy started working in the industry at the age of 18, some nine years ago, before moving onto Holiday Camps. He came back to bingo five years ago and has worked for Majestic Bingo since April this year. Currently Billy is Majestic’s only National LIVE Caller: you can hear his voice on Tuesday afternoons and Wednesday evenings, at participating clubs. The competition formed part of Majestic’s North East Jamboree held in Durham - the fourth event of its kind this year. Customers from six clubs joined the Durham regulars for an afternoon of cabaret, bingo and the debut appearance of the company’s new mascot, Kingo.

Rob Spencer, Billy Beswick and Jason Dale

North East Marketplace Manager, Eric Howell said “It was great to see customers from all over the country coming along and supporting their Caller as they competed for the coveted Caller of the Year title.” Mark Jepp, Managing Director of Majestic Bingo Limited, said: “We have some very talented Bingo Callers in the company and wanted to showcase this as part of an event which our customers could also support. I’d like to thank everyone who entered, without whom the event wouldn’t have been possible. We hope next year’s event can be even bigger and better.”

Majestic Bingo 2016 Caller of the Year Entrants • Rob Spencer Ritz Castleford (1st) • Jason Dale Apollo Barrow-in-Furness (2nd) • Bill Beswick Hippodrome Bishop Auckland (3rd) • Geoff Brown Hippodrome Bishop Auckland • Becki Hale Ritz Castleford • Mike Holroyd Apollo Rhyl • Liz Phillips Apollo Durham

www.bingolifemagazine.com 11


Happy Birthday Mecca Swansea!

Mecca Bingo in Camarthen Road Swansea held a celebratory event for its loyal customers to celebrate its birthday, marking 20years since opening its doors to the public. The club’s longest serving team member Gaynor Robinson, who has worked at Mecca for 38 years, transferring to Camarthen Road when it opened, presided over the event. To mark the occasion, customers were treated to a free gift bag with a scented candle and everyone sang happy birthday in the newly refurbished club. The new look club continues to offer customers a great bingo experience, with a new coffee shop area, full internal and external redecoration including new carpets and seating as well as a fresh look for the reception area. Commenting on the club’s anniversary, Tracey Davies, Operations Manager at Mecca Swansea, said: “We’re proud to see the club continuing to thrive after welcoming its first customers back in 1996. “All of our regulars enjoyed the special atmosphere in the club this weekend as we also revealed the new look 12

club. It was so special for our colleagues here too, with over 10 colleagues who have been with us since day one. Mecca Bingo has recently unveiled a fresh new look, backed by a multi-million pound through-the-line marketing campaign. The series of television adverts introduce the new multi-channel brand strapline ‘We Know the Feeling’ which focuses on the fun and excitement people experience when playing with Mecca, featuring television presenter, fashion expert and Strictly particpant, Louise Redknapp. issue 024


The Rank Group celebrates after helping to donate almost £200,000 to Carers Trust Throughout 2016 Mecca Bingo clubs across the country have been organising fun and unusual fundraisers, such as sponsored walks, survival challenges, and energetic obstacle courses to support Carers Trust. The partnership between Carers Trust and the Rank Group, of which Mecca is part, began in February 2014. The money raised goes to help support over seven million unpaid carers in the UK who provide round the clock care, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. A spokes person for Mecca said, “We know the feeling when there aren’t enough hours in the day which is why we couldn’t have been happier providing respite to those who need it most. Throughout all the fun and games over the years, we’ve been fundraising for a very important and deserving cause and I’d like to say a massive thanks to our team members and kind-hearted customers who have helped raise such a fantastic amount of money for Carers Trust. “There are no words to describe the importance of what these carers do in our community, and it’s an honour to know how much we’ve been able to help make life that little bit easier for some of the unpaid carers in our area

who could easily go unnoticed and unsupported.” Gail Scott-Spicer, CEO of Carers Trust, added: “We’re absolutely overjoyed by the incredible sum raised by Rank. “The awareness and money employees and customers raise will help Carers Trust to support thousands of unpaid carers through its grants funds. This gives carers the equipment and skills they need to carry out their caring roles, whilst also ensuring that their own health and wellbeing are looked after.”

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www.bingolifemagazine.com 13


Kicking the Gambling Blues sweeping away anachronistic restrictions on customer choice and commercial freedom. While some felt threatened by Budd’s ideas for modernisation, the report inspired a burst of creativity from the industry with many companies putting forward bold new visions for the future of gaming and betting as mainstream leisure activities. Today, those dreams appear to have largely dissolved. In 2016, gambling’s Christmas wish-list consists chiefly of more (and more powerful) machines and cashless payment systems – not as the necessary pre-cursors to inspirational visions but as ends in themselves. I did warn you that I was depressing. I have learned from experience that perhaps the most unwelcome combination of words in the English language is “told you so”. A year ago, I wrote in this magazine that the gambling industry’s obsession with machines was unlikely to end well – and the evidence so far suggests that I am on the money.


wise lady of gambling recently told me that she found me depressing. I sympathised with her and confided that this was a fairly common reaction. However, it seemed that on this occasion at least it was not my company that had dampened her spirits but something I had written. She had just read my regulatory analytics paper, ‘Budd Revisited: Gambling in Britain 15 Years On’ (UNLV Gaming Research & Review Journal, Fall Edition) and found herself comparing the optimistic spirit that imbued the Report of the Gambling Review Body (the ‘Budd Report’) with the backdrop to the current DCMS review of gambling. This gave her the regulatory blues. Back in 2001, Budd’s focus rested squarely on creating the greatest consumer enjoyment from gambling regulation (with appropriate checks and balances to guard against harm, crime and exploitation). The Review Body’s year-long investigation yielded no fewer than 176 recommendations for the improvement of gambling, 14

The last 12 months has been marked by media and political scrutiny of our industry (and machines in particular) on a level not seen since the Gambling Act – with little in the way of positive news. While the Sunday People’s campaign has been focused on the FOBT, exposés in the Times have been more liberally spread around the industry. Last month’s Victoria Derbyshire Show on BBC2 even questioned the bingo clubs sector (largely in relation to B3 machines). As has long been feared, the regulatory conflagration is spreading. Amidst all the controversy around stake and prize limits, speed of play and numbers of machines, the underlying problem – the structural decline of venue-based (and community-based) gambling in Great Britain has been largely ignored. Locked into licensing categories dreamt up during the 1960s, land-based gambling has become decreasingly less relevant to UK consumers – and this has led to generational declines in usage. The fate of the bookies provides a neat illustration. Designed for an era when horse and dog-racing dominated betting, shops these days are simply not equipped to meet the needs of the modern punter who is more inclined to wager on football and tennis. With shops not offering an attractive place to watch these sports, in-play betting is a busted flush.

issue 024


Richard Cave Remembered

The point is that arcades, betting shops, casinos and bingo clubs can no longer hope to compete with remote gambling for transactional gambling (except in relation to cash-based betting); they must work out how to compete on experience. Instead of doing this, many land-based gambling operators appear more focused on propping up declining visitation with increasing expenditure on machine gaming. It is an approach that seems likely to drive operator revenues towards dwindling bands of intense gamblers – and that way lies regulatory risk. When the regulatory concerns reach critical level there is every chance that the crutch gets kicked away – and what happens then? Bingo clubs know the answer to this question – because it’s precisely what happened in 2007 when Section 21 machines were outlawed. It seems entirely conceivable that we may see something similar happen next year in another part of the industry. To survive and adapt we need to go back to the spirit of Budd. The first question we should ask ourselves is “what do people want?” rather than “what do the regulations say we are allowed to do?” If the answer to the first is attractive enough there’s a good chance that the latter can be changed. Curiously in this review the Government may have opened the door for broader reform. The eighth and final question in the DCMS ‘call for evidence’ provided an opportunity for operators to compile their ‘bucketlists’ for regulatory modernisation and demonstrate that the industry’s imagination stretches beyond gaming machines. If that happens, I may just stop depressing the ladies. International House 24 Holborn Viaduct London, EC1A 2BN 020 7965 7369 info@reguluspartners.com www.reguluspartners.com


ichard Cave, who died earlier this year, was a well-respected professional, whose contribution to the industry has left its mark. He will be greatly missed by friends and colleagues, and our sympathies go out to his family. Richard was Operations Director with Gala Bingo from 2010 until the end of 2015. Before which he was Operations Director at Rank Group/ Mecca Bingo, which he joined from Bowling International Ltd, where he was Retail Director. Previously, Richard had gained extensive experience in the leisure industry having worked for Mercury Inns Group, Everards Brewery Ltd and Bass Leisure Entertainments Ltd. During his time at Gala, Richard understood the company’s ethos and prioritised dealing with its customers first. He went out of his way to understand their needs and wants and sought to ensure that Gala lived up to their expectations. For Richard, the delivery of the best service with the highest standards was critical – both to him and for the company. He knew that Gala’s customers expected not only to be entertained but that their clubs should be clean, safe and tidy and it was through the encouragement of adherence to these principles that Richard was so successful in his job. Richard was always pragmatic in his approach to business. He knew that there were hard times and that the answer was not to engage in gimmickry but to concentrate on working harder to meet customers’ expectations and to ensure that they left Gala’s clubs having felt that they had received value for money. Gala’s core business of bingo was critical, Richard always understood, but his greatest legacy was probably in improving its approach to food and beverage. Richard was absolutely insistent that bingo customers deserved the best quality food and drink and that it should be presented perfectly at their table. It was Richard’s drive and determination that ensured that table service and high quality food and drink is now prevalent throughout the industry.

www.bingolifemagazine.com 15


All Party, All Bingo Bingo Life meets the new Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Bingo, Anna Turley MP


nna Turley is the Labour and Co-operative MP for Redcar. The constituency is a diverse community, stretching to include a range of other towns and villages, including Eston, South Bank, Normanby, Marske-by-the-Sea, New Marske, Ormesby and Grangetown. It has a proud 16

industrial history, with steel forged in Redcar helping to build the modern world from Canary Wharf to the Sydney Harbour Bridge. A lively seaside town, with miles of golden sandy beaches, Redcar also offers donkey rides, amusement arcades, a boating lake, racecourse and the world’s oldest-surviving lifeboat. issue 024

FEATURE: ANNA TURLEY MP Passionate about making a difference, Anna has worked for over 10 years as a public servant, seeking to tackle social exclusion, poverty and unemployment. Anna has also campaigned for better local government through building the national Co-operative Councils Network, which promotes more power to be devolved from London to the regions. Living in Redcar where she is an active, and visible MP, Anna campaigns on local issues. As current Chair of the APPG on Bingo, Bingo Life wanted to know a more about her views on and her connection to bingo. We were fortunate to secure some time in Anna’s busy schedule when in Westminster and put some questions to her: Can we ask made you want to become Chair of the APPG on Bingo? “Bingo is a really important leisure activity. It helps bring people together and tackles social isolation in communities by giving people, especially older women, the chance to get out of the house and socialise. I wanted to be Chair of the APPG on Bingo to help highlight and promote the social importance of Bingo so that more people can benefit from it.” How do you see your role as Chair of the APPG on Bingo? “I think the most important part of my role as Chair is to ensure issues in the Bingo industry are brought to the attention of Government and to help raise the profile of Bingo across the country so that more people can realise the social and community benefits it can bring.” Over 70 MPs visited their local bingo club last October and over 25 attended The Bingo Association’s Parliamentary Reception this year – why do you think bingo enjoys such high levels of support by MPs? “MPs are supposed to be normal people who represent communities, so I would hope they enjoy a bit of bingo! I think it reflects the popularity of Bingo with our constituents across the country and is recognition of its importance to many of our communities.” You called the numbers at The Bingo Association’s Parliamentary Reception this year – how did you find it? “It was a fantastic event with support from people from right across the country, which was great to see. As I said at the time - parliament belongs to the people so I was glad so many bingo players got to come and

“Bingo is a really important leisure activity. It helps bring people together and tackles social isolation in communities by giving people, especially older women, the chance to get out of the house and socialise. I wanted to be Chair of the APPG on Bingo to help highlight and promote the social importance of Bingo so that more people can benefit from it.” enjoy a drink or two here! I especially enjoyed meeting Angela Rippon - it was really good of her to come along and support the reception.” Why did you want to become an MP? “I have always been interested in public service and in my younger days I really wanted to join the police. I decided to stand for election to become an MP, after working in the civil service, because I thought that was where I could make the most impact. Rather than being stuck in an office shuffling paper around, this job is all about people and solving problems.” What is the most exciting thing that has happened to you since becoming MP for Redcar? “It has been a really mixed 18 months since I was elected, with some good moments and some really difficult challenges, especially fighting to save Redcar steelworks. The exciting moments have been the abseil I did from the roof of the Great North Children’s Hospital to raise money for Teenage Cancer Trust (although that was quite scary too!) and helping out at the Christmas light switch on in Redcar last year.” The Bingo Association partners with Variety, the Children’s Charity. Are there any charities or charitable issues close to your heart? “My new Charity of the Year is The Junction, a local organisation in my constituency that supports vulnerable children, young people and their families. They work with people who are struggling to cope with issues like mental health problems, homelessness, unemployment and caring responsibilities. Like Bingo, they help to give people a feeling of belonging. The thing that is especially good is that they work with people to build up their resilience so that they can cope with other challenges that come their way.”

www.bingolifemagazine.com 17

the world theatre of gaming

To join the world at ICE visit icetotallygaming.com

ExCeL, London 7-9 February 2017



Bingo Loves Variety 2016 Another great year, another £250,000 raised and a renewed commitment for 2017 announced!

Pamela Sinclair, Angela Rippon and Miles Baron


he Bingo Association’s partnership with Variety, the children’s charity, was announced at the Houses of Parliament in 2014, with a commitment to raise £250,000 each year, for two years. They did it! Following the success of all the hard work and great efforts by staff and players across the country, the 20

Association delivered its first cheque to Variety for £250,000 in October 2015. Thrilled by the success of the industry wide campaign BINGO ♥ VARIETY, charity champions, staff and players were exited to start making plans for 2016; the money raised in 2015 had already started making a difference in the lives of children and organisations before plans for 2016 were finalised. Details of some of the individuals and organisations issue 024


Angela Rippon with some of the attending MPs

benefitting from the hard work and generosity of the bingo industry have already been covered by Bingo Life and include schools, special schools, Youth Groups, Youth Clubs, community groups and individuals. It is particularly fitting for bingo, which is very much focused on community, to see funds raised across the country are being distributed across the country, already making a difference and touching people’s lives in: • Abergele • Aylesbury • Birmingham • Blackpool • Brighton • Dewsbury • Dorking • Durham • Edgware • Epping • Exeter • Gateshead • Glasgow • Gravesend • London • Maidstone • Middlesex • Milton Keynes • Northumberland • Norwich • Nottingham • Ossett • Pinner • Poole • Ringmer • Rochdale • St Neots • Silverstone • Southampton • Stamford • Swansea • Torquay • Tyne & Wear The list is ever growing, thanks to funds raised by bingo clubs. Key fundraising events in 2016 were once again focused around September, with lots of special games of bingo taking place in clubs: head offices of larger operators were also getting in on the action too, with Gala Bingo

Clubs head office team in Nottingham going all-out with: • Pin the Tail on Donkey • Whose paper airplane will fly the furthest • Staff being set-up and having to wear a hotdog outfit and walk to the local café to ask for onions with her hot dog! • Sunshine yellow day – wear an item of yellow clothing • Raffles • Tuck Shop • Nintendo Wii Tennis Tournament • Hoopla • Pick & Win • Bucket Ball Many clubs held events throughout the year, some large some small, but all making an important contribution to the 2016 target and the important work of Variety. Majestic Bingo had an exceptional year, beating their 2015 total to deliver £38,475 for Bingo ♥ Variety. Once again the collective hard work of operators, staff and players paid off as the tally of funds raised in 2016 is over £250,000, bringing the total across two years to over half a million pounds! Cause for celebration all ‘round and something that The Bingo Association and Variety wanted to shout about. In 2015, over 80 Members of Parliament joined the party at their local

www.bingolifemagazine.com 21


Players Shirley and Timothy Pickford

bingo club: this year The Bingo Association took bingo to the House! Players Maxine and Anthony Ballington

Lynne Thomas, James Taylor and Sue Stevenson

Players Clare Grimley and Gemma Pett


On Wednesday 19th October, Variety supporter Angela Rippon OBE joined Miles Baron, Chief Executive of The Bingo Association, at a parliamentary reception held by the Association, to celebrate its relationship with and hugely successful fundraising for Variety, the children’s charity as well as taking the opportunity to celebrate 30 years of the National Bingo Game. The reception was attended by bingo players and charity champions invited from across Great Britain, who were joined at the event by a number of MPs, including : • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

Chi Onwurah MP Chris Green MP Christina Rees MP Craig Williams MP David Mackintosh MP Dawn Butler MP Gerald Jones MP Gisela Stuart MP James Davies MP John McNally MP Ian Lucas MP James Davies MP John Woodcock MP Justin Madders MP Lisa Cameron MP Martyn Day MP Mary Glindon MP Neil Gray MP Nick Thomas Symonds MP Philip Davies MP Ruth Smeeth MP Sir Roger Gale MP Stephen McPartland MP Tracey Crouch MP issue 024


Winner Susan Maclean and Jamies Davies MP

Players Kim and Richard Blezard Anna Turley MP and Dawn Butler MP calling bingo

Players Desiree and Keith Richardson

Players Lillina Charles and Sally Blount

www.bingolifemagazine.com 23


Mark Jepp – Majestic, Pamela Sinclair – Variety, Joe McFadden – Actor and Ashley Clarke - Deputy Head, Grangewood School

Players Kerry Abercrombie and Richard Harrison

Angela Rippon said: “I’m very proud to represent Variety today and to take this opportunity to thank bingo players and staff at clubs nationwide for their incredible support. It is only with this fundraising and support that Variety can continue to help young people so that they may reach their full potential.” Angela Rippon has been a familiar face and voice in British broadcasting for over 40 years, winning multiple awards for her work on both television and radio. She remains committed to Variety, the children’s chary, which she has supported since the 1970s. In addition to the cheque presentation and speeches by Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Bingo, Anna Turley MP, the event also involved a charity bingo game, called by Anna and fellow MP Dawn Butler. The game raised a further £200 pounds for Variety. At the reception Miles Baron said: “For the second year in a row, bingo clubs have raised over £250,000 for Variety, the children’s charity. The bingo industry is a social activity rooted in the heart of local communities. What makes Variety such a great partner for bingo is that money raised by customers goes back to the communities from where it came and therefore I am delighted to announce that we are extending our relationship with Variety for a third year.” The announcement of a third year was met with great applause and cheering, as Miles thanked operators, staff and players for their hard work and generosity and MPs for their support. Lisa Morgan – Castle, Craig Williams MP, Miles Baron, Angela Rippon, Jeff Harris and Jodie Davis – Castle Bingo


See across for the open letter to the Bingo Association

issue 024


Miles Baron Chief Executive The Bingo Association Ltd Lexham House 75 High Street North Dunstable LU6 1JF Dear Mr Baron, On behalf of everyone at Variety, and especially the children that we are abl say how delighted and gra e to help, we want to teful we are to have the amazing support of The staff and customers hav Bingo Association. Clubs, e so warmly embraced Var iety and recognised that to improve the lives of disa their support is helping bled and disadvantaged children in their commu nities. Variety provides tangibl e, often life changing sup port to children and you disability, suffer with poo ng people who have a r health, or are disadvanta ged; this support spans Coaches, Wheelchairs, Spe the provision of Sunshin cialist and Sensory Equipm e ent, Grants for Youth Clu Childhood Experiences thro bs and Memorable ugh great days out. Sunshine coaches enable children with special nee ds to access educational, facilities as well as get invo recreational, and sports lved in their local commu nity. Wheelchairs give disa independence and the cha bled children nce to join in activities wit h friends and family. Spe Equipment can vastly imp cialist and Sensory rove the quality of life for children with life limitin equipment grants enable g conditions. Youth Club the clubs to offer engagin g programmes to young peo them off the streets and ple; helping to keep out of trouble. The Variety Great Days Out programm children the chance to enj e gives thousands of oy childhood experience s they would otherwise seaside, a theme park, cine miss such as a trip to the ma or circus. Your support during 201 5 and 2016 has helped rais e a staggering ÂŁ500,000 express how grateful we and words can hardly are on behalf of the tho usands of children that we better life in childhood and are able to help live a have the opportunity to reach their unique potent ial. We would like to take this opportunity to wish you all the very best for Christm as and the New Year. Kind regards,

Colleen Ettridge Head of Fundraising Variety House, 93 Bay ham Street, London NW1 0AG T: 020 7428 8100 F: 020 7428 8111 E: info @variety.org.uk www.variety.org.uk UK Register ed Charity No. 209259

(England & Wales) and No.

SC038505 (Scotland)

www.bingolifemagazine.com 25


Passion Meets Purpose Alan Morgan chats to Bingo Life about his new role at the forefront of Mecca


issue 024



lan Morgan joined the Rank Group as Managing Director of Mecca Bingo in September this year, bringing with him a wealth of experience in the hospitality and leisure sector. Prior to joining Rank Alan was Chief Operating & Commercial Officer at Spirit Pub Company and he has also held senior roles at Whitbread and David Lloyd Leisure. Since September, Alan has had a packed schedule, full with business and industry demands, but we managed to catchup with him briefly So why Rank? I had met a number of great people within the Rank Group before I joined, so I already knew a lot about the company. I thought very highly of everyone I met, so when the opportunity came along to join Rank, I was immediately interested. I have worked in leisure all my life and I am passionate about the industry.

We have a lot of challenges ahead of us but we have highly dedicated people within the company who are all as passionate about bingo and as committed to Mecca and our responsibilities as I am. I’m confident we are all going in the right direction and we’re going there together building it) for long-term, sustainable growth by evolving our offer. We need to do this in a way that takes all our existing customers with us on the journey.

With Mecca, I see a big challenge but also a huge opportunity. The most exciting thing for me is the impact I can have on shaping the business. Mecca is a brilliant company with fantastic people, I am genuinely excited about where we can take the brand and the fun we can have getting there.

Within Mecca, in the short term, I want to be certain we are delivering for our team, our customers and our investors but I also want to ensure we are working on compelling plans in terms of developing our offers, games and clubs to surprise and delight our customers in the longer term.

What are the key challenges for 2017? We have a lot of challenges ahead of us but we have highly dedicated people within the company who are all as passionate about bingo and as committed to Mecca and our responsibilities as I am. I’m confident we are all going in the right direction and we’re going there together. It is early days for me, I am only a few months into the role, but I see the key challenges for 2017 as follows:

As regards the wider industry, I will obviously be working closely with the Bingo Association to ensure we do what we can for industry-wide progression.

• Our first challenge is to ensure that all our people, both within club and in our support teams understand the key challenges and are highly motivated to overcome them.

Are you a bingo fan? Who isn’t a bingo fan?! I have really fond memories of playing as a child at holiday camps, not for cash of course! I hadn’t played for a while but then in the few weeks leading up to my appointment I must have played in at least 20 clubs – both our own and competitors – to understand exactly where the industry is at the moment, talk about total immersion! I found it’s like riding a bike, you don’t forget, I brushed up my dabbing skills in no time!

• Secondly, we must make sure we are focused on our customers’ enjoyment and the value that we give to each of them, it is critical that we ensure they have the best possible time when they are with us in club. • Our third challenge is to innovate in a number of areas for both our existing customers and for new customers, where we can add value and increase their enjoyment. • Finally, we must lay out the pathway (and start www.bingolifemagazine.com 27


Accelerating the pace of change Many of the big land-based operators have already faced big fines, mainly for money laundering deficiencies but also some failures in social responsibility. This year alone Betfred was handed a £800,000 ‘penalty package’ following a licence review this year, Gala Coral forfeited £846,600 and Paddy Power contributed £280,000 to socially responsible causes.


Sarah Harrison Chief Executive Gambling Commission

n 8th November this year, The Gambling Commission hosted its first Raising Standards Conference, held in Birmingham. It is the first time that the Commission has run such an event, recognising the place for face-to-face discussion as a way of building understanding. The conference was a call for all operators, across the gambling sector, to accelerate the pace of change at which they are putting social responsibility at the heart of business decisions. The ‘call’ came from Commission Chief Executive Sarah Harrison during her speech at the Conference, where the industry was challenged to become the most trusted gambling sector in the world. Ms Harrison said that while operators had been making progress in areas including the development and implementation of harm reduction strategies and gambling management tools for consumers, there was still more to be done, and that operators needed to raise their ambitions and sights higher. In addressing delegates she said, “You need to step up the pace of change - in how you handle customer complaints; ensure advertising is clear; simplify terms and conditions; develop your risk management strategies on money laundering; evaluate the impact of social responsibility initiatives - and, working across all these areas, in how you do more to share best practice...don’t wait for a crisis to happen that shakes the very foundation of customers’ trust in your industry. Act now and demonstrate to consumers that your interest in their needs is genuine.”


Ms Harrison warned that future failures could result in stronger penalties stating that, “One of the principles in the Commission’s existing statement for licensing and regulation is a preference for pursuing compliance through means that stop short of a licence review, in favour of a regulatory settlement. We propose to remove this bias in favour of settlement. “We will put access to all tools, including licence review both of the operator and personal management licences - on an equal footing. Put simply, we will use the right tool for the job.

“We will put access to all tools, including licence review - both of the operator and personal management licences - on an equal footing. Put simply, we will use the right tool for the job. “In addition, we will propose changes to our statement on financial penalties with the likelihood of higher penalties going forward, in particular where we see systemic and repeated failings. Our principles on penalties already reflect the need to remove profits from non-compliance, take account of costs and consumer harm, and deter poor compliance but higher penalties are likely if we do not see behaviour changing.” Sarah Harrison’s speech is available in full to read or watch here: http://www.gamblingcommission.gov.uk/ Press/2016/Commission-challenges-operators-toquicken-pace-of-consumer-focus.aspx

issue 024

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Why ICE is the ‘World theatre of gaming’ Peter White chats to Kate Chambers Managing Director ICE Totally Gaming


CE Totally Gaming 2016 was in many exhibitor and attendee’s opinion a huge success, what have you planned for 2017? The show floor is, in many ways a reflection of what is actually taking place in the industry and it keeps the ICE experience relevant and topical. The key new development for 2017 relates to the launch of ICE VOX, our new learning brand which replaces Conferences. Our team has created ICE VOX to be the gaming industry’s newest knowledge-exchange and educational brand with a key programme of paid for and free to attend learning and networking modules taking place alongside the exhibition. 30

The learning and knowledge-exchange opportunities that are available at ICE are widely recognised as being amongst the very best in the industry. The ability to engage with the industry’s pre-eminent authorities and thought leaders and then meet with the people responsible for creating the very latest on-line and offline gaming technologies on a show floor of over 500 exhibitors, is unique to ICE. ICE VOX will retain all of these stand-out credentials at the same time as reaching out to new communities of knowledge hungry gaming professionals. The ICE VOX content team have introduced dynamic new issue 024

INTERVIEW: ICE 2017 concepts and approaches which will help re-shape the learning experience for gaming and engage with our stakeholders in a contemporary and compelling way. This is part of the on-going programme of initiatives that we undertake in order to keep our brands fresh and relevant.

Kate Chambers Managing Director ICE Totally Gaming

How many new exhibitors can visitors expect to see at ICE and how important is this for the development of the exhibition? First time exhibitors represent the ‘X-Factor’ in the ICE success story, so the confirmation that 91 gaming organisations from 34 nations will be making their ICE debuts in February is hugely encouraging. Each year we undertake an extensive research programme amongst our customer base of visitors and one of the top quoted reasons for attending ICE is the opportunity it provides to meet and connect with new companies and potential new suppliers. Large business to business events such as ICE provide a valuable opportunity to expand horizons and forge new contacts as well as meet with the better known innovators and suppliers in the business. However, what I think makes ICE unique is that our first time exhibitors are drawn from throughout the gaming world, thereby providing visitors with an international perspective as opposed to a regional or a national one, in the process bringing a new dimension and vitality to the show floor. The exhibition floor for 2016 was 100% capacity is there going to be more exhibition floor space being made available at ExCeL for the 2017 show? The 2016 edition of ICE comprised 38,980 square metres of stand space. The 2017 show will comprise 40,925 square metres, a 5% increase which will make it the largest ICE show on record. We are very aware of the need to control the growth of ICE and not simply to pursue a full out expansion strategy. What this means is to try and mirror expansion on the show floor with a concomitant increase in the number of visitors. We are only guardians of the ICE brand and it’s essential for us to manage the growth strategy in a sensible, pragmatic and sustainable way. Can you outline the changes to the transport plans brought about by the Crossrail development? Just to keep your readers in the loop, Crossrail is a huge transport infrastructure development which ultimately will enable visitors to travel from from Heathrow airport to ExCeL in less than 45 minutes. As part of the development we have been informed that the Custom House Docklands Light Railway will be

First time exhibitors represent the ‘X-Factor’ in the ICE success story, so the confirmation that 91 gaming organisations from 34 nations will be making their ICE debuts in February is hugely encouraging closed for 12 months. Instead, ICE visitors will be able to use the Royal Victoria stop which is 650 metres from ExCeL. To deal with this we will be providing a fleet of buses and coaches throughout each of the three days to transport visitors to the main ExCeL registration entrance. We have apportioned a separate and ring-fenced budget to provide free transportation and appoint a team, led by ICE Event Director, Greg Saint, which will be responsible for organising the logistics and for communicating the changes to our loyal community of visitors throughout the world. In 2012/13, we handled the move from west London to ExCeL and we will be using the same skill set and attention to detail to ensure the smooth and trouble-free movement of visitors from Royal Victoria to ExCeL.

www.bingolifemagazine.com 31

INTERVIEW: ICE 2017 marketing and networking opportunities specifically for the sector. As organisers of the biggest b2b gaming event in the world, I see it as our role and indeed our duty to work with trade bodies such as The Bingo Association, to explore and develop ways in which we can support all of gaming’s extended family. The Bingo Pavilion is a perfect case study of how we can help achieve this and I am delighted it has grown in size and status from its debut at ICE 2016. The Bingo Association represents a community oriented part of the gaming industry and it is fitting the sector will have a vibrant presence at ICE.

As organisers of the biggest b2b gaming event in the world, I see it as our role and indeed our duty to work with trade bodies such as The Bingo Association, to explore and develop ways in which we can support all of gaming’s extended family My team has been in close contact with their counterparts working for both ExCeL and Transport for London. We have agreed that liaison staff will be on hand at key points en route and, for those not wanting to use the coach service, there will be a sign-posted walk which brings visitors up the approach to the very front of ExCeL. We have timed the walk at seven minutes. We will be keeping the industry fully informed of these changes and working with our exhibitors to ensure we transport ICE attendees to ExCeL as quickly and as efficiently as possible. The dedicated Bingo Pavilion networking facility is bigger and better in 2017, can you provide your view of this important statement by the gaming industry in providing such a high profile dedicated networking facilities? True to our ‘Totally Gaming’ pledge, ICE 2017 will feature a new and expanded area dedicated to meeting the specific needs of the land based Bingo sector. We have worked in partnership with The Bingo Association to create a 220 square metre ICE Bingo Pavilion for 32

What’s the best way to register for ICE? The 2016 edition of ICE attracted a record, independently audited attendance of 28,487, who made the journey to London from 150 countries. Our commitment is to constantly monitor and improve the customer journey, which begins at the point of registration. This year’s programme of customer research that we undertake after each edition of ICE, highlighted the understandable desire to further streamline registration. We have introduced auto-population email invites, which make the process significantly quicker for anyone who previously registered in either 2016 or 2015, and for those visiting icetotallygaming.com the number of mandatory fields has been reduced and contained within a simplified three tier process. In addition we have answered stakeholder requests to be able to use social media and register via LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter. ICE Totally Gaming is the only b2b gaming event that brings together the online and offline gaming sectors. Featuring world-leading innovators drawn from casino, betting, bingo, lottery, mobile, online and street gaming, ICE provides the most comprehensive shop window on world gaming and in 2016 attracted a record attendance of 28,487 drawn from 150 nations. ICE Totally Gaming takes place in February 2017 at the following times: Tuesday, 7 February - 10am-6pm Wednesday, 8 February - 10am-6pm Thursday, 9 February - 10am-4pm Gaming professionals can register for tickets at icetotallygaming.com issue 024



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Profile for Casino Life Magazine

Bingo life winter 2016  


Bingo life winter 2016