With just one sleep to go until National Bingo Day, BingoDaily got the opportunity to speak exclusively with some of the main protagonists behind this iconic day. With all the biggest names signed up for Sunday, June 27th and a whole host of special promotions on offer, it looks like the first official National Bingo Day in the UK will be a roaring success.
Rebecca Taylor-Bell, Head of Retail Marketing at Buzz Bingo and Catherine Warrilow at Mecca Bingo explain how National Bingo Day came about, what's planned for the day and the UK retail bingo scene in general.
So, with National Bingo Day just days away, let’s start at the beginning. How did you come together? Who made the first move and has there been any cooperation between Buzz and Mecca in the past?
Catherine at Mecca: Luckily it’s been a steady courtship, rather than an awkward first date! Last summer the Mecca team realised that National Bingo Day was only really registered as a proper awareness day in the US. So we set about exploring how it could become a big thing here for Brits to celebrate their obsession for bingo – we went to the Bingo Association with the seed of an idea. They duly played matchmakers and the rest, as they say, is history.
National Bingo Day brought you together, what’s it like working with your biggest rival? What do you admire most about the others' work?
Rebecca at Buzz: Well you know what they say… keep your friends close and your enemies closer… only joking! We have a fab relationship with the Mecca team and can often be seen tweeting friendly banter with each other, it’s all good fun. Working together is easy because ultimately, we’re working toward the same goal – showcasing bingo as a fantastic entertainment activity and getting people to love it as much as we do!
‘Mega Money Weekend'
What have you got planned for this iconic occasion? Jointly and separately?
Catherine at Mecca: So Mecca have a few special National Bingo Day twists in store – a 1960s prices deal on June 23rd to celebrate our big 60th birthday this year – that’s
your main game of bingo for 60p! And because we all missed a proper Christmas last year, we’ve decided to go a bit Aldi and celebrate Junemas from Friday 25th, with a whole weekend of festive fun coming together for the two huge National Bingo Game jackpots of £50k each guaranteed on National Bingo Day, which is June 27th. So Christmas has actually come early at Mecca!
Online we’ve got a mega-money weekend to celebrate National Bingo Day, with £90k up for grabs over Friday, Saturday and Sunday. You’ll also find a month of free bingo up for grabs both online and in clubs. Finally, we have the incredible Yvette, one of our biggest bingo fans ever, setting off on an amazing road trip this weekend, touring 60 clubs to celebrate her 60th, and ours! She’ll finish up in December – just in time for actual Christmas!
Rebecca at Buzz: We’ve got a week-long celebration at Buzz, with in-club and online activity going on every single day. From 50% off food and soft drinks to bingo from just 50p and the two £50,000 jackpots, Catherine has mentioned. We’re also playing a charity bingo game with £500 to be won and we’ll be giving all our members a special chocolatey treat on the big day itself. Not forgetting buzzbingo.com, of course, where the week long celebrations continue in our online bingo rooms! It doesn’t stop there – anyone who calls ‘house’ on number 27, 06 or 21 during our afternoon or evening main event will also win a free chicken basket meal… winner, winner, chicken dinner!
All clubs across the UK will be hosting a charity bingo game on Friday 25th June, with nearly 30 clubs hosting their local MP’s who will be calling the game. The bingo industry will be raising around £15,000 on the day for the Bingo Association charity Variety – the Children’s Charity. Bingo clubs from Mecca, Buzz, and the Independent sector have raised an amazing £1.6million for Variety over the last 5 years funding over 34 Sunshine Coaches for local schools with special needs.
94% of Bingo Operators Signed Up
Who has signed up so far and what can bingo players online and offline expect on this day?
Rebecca Buzz: We have an incredible 94% of digital and land based operators signed up to support National Bingo Day. In addition to the Bingo Association and all its members, online platforms and operators including Playtech, Pragmatic, Gamesys and 888 have pledged their support for the day
What’s needed for National Bingo Day to be a success and a yearly event?
Catherine Mecca: What makes this different is that if judged a success this annual attraction will grow and become better and bigger every year. National Bingo Day has the potential to become the biggest and the best Industry initiative so far.
Is this a ‘Christmas football in a no-mans land’ situation or the start of future cooperation?
Catherine Mecca: Come June 28th I’m pretending it was all just a dream. Just kidding, in honesty, I think this is the start of a beautiful friendship with Buzz, what we do to support each other, supports bingo so it’s got to be a good thing. And as we all know, with the support of the Bingo Association we’ve been working collectively for the good of bingo for many years – the previous Boost Bingo campaigns, The long-running and incredibly successful National Game, lobbying around the Bingo is my Lifeline campaign, Caller of the Year and lots more. We’re a fiercely passionate bunch in bingo and working collaboratively is a huge part of our success.
It’s been a tough year for the UK bingo scene, and just a month since bingo halls reopened, what has been the response since doors reopened?
Catherine Mecca: It’s been incredible to have our doors back open – our customers and staff are all delighted and it’s evident in the local activations being rolled out that they’re loving being able to have some fun in venues and create brilliant bingo entertainment that we’ve all really missed. As always, our role is to be an active and supportive member of the community, something we’re proud to have kept as a priority even when we were closed.
Rebecca Buzz: It’s been phenomenal really – bingo clubs are at the heart of local communities and for many customers, coming to the club is where they can socialise with friends, family and generally like-minded people. We were so happy to reopen to be able to provide that safe, friendly and familiar space for them again.
Six New Clubs Confirmed to Open in 2021
With a number of clubs closed by Mecca, Buzz and others, are we through the woods in terms of closure or can we expect more clubs to close as the year progresses?
Catherine Mecca: If any one of us had a crystal ball, I’m sure we’d be keen to look into the future. We’re confident in our reopening position, but equally, we’ll never rest on our laurels; there is always more to do to future proof the business.
Rebecca Buzz: Like many others in the leisure and entertainment industry, we’ve faced business challenges during these unprecedented times and have done whatever we could to ensure a sustainable, long term future and secure as many jobs as possible.
Miles Baron, Chief Executive of the Bingo Association commented on the closures: “it’s been a challenging year however we are also seeing very positive signs – with six new clubs confirmed to open this year and hopefully more in 2022”
Finally, if anyone wants to get involved in National Bingo Day, or see what’s happening, what should they do?
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A big thanks to Catherine, Rebecca and Miles for their time and answers. Here's to a successful National Bingo Day and beyond.