After a well-orchastrated campaign by the Bingo Association, independent bingo halls can now bid for grants of up to £50,000. The funding support comes after high-profile Save Scottish Bingo and Bingo is my Lifeline campaigns raised awareness of the plight of the bingo industry in Scotland.
Concerns over the future of bingo in Scotland grew after the industry had received little assistance over the past year. Meanwhile, other areas of hospitality, sometimes even in the same building in one cinema's case, received financial support.
Troup councillor Mark Findlater wrote to the finance secretary Kate Forbes for help. He urged her to grant the similar status of discretionary funding that independent cinemas received.
Staff costs are being met by the UK Government’s furlough scheme. However, there has been nothing for the fabric and maintenance since doors shut in March last year.
Bingo halls in Scotland are expected to reopen on the 17th of May. Most bingo halls in Scotland have spent the majority of the last 14 months closed.
Bingo a “Vital Social Activity”
Mr Findlater wrote:
“For many people, bingo is a vital social activity. The game is almost secondary to that, but the place and the welcoming, friendly environment still need to be there.
“Without support for places like Broch bingo then we may see them fold.
“That is inconsistent with current thinking now: that isolation can be worse for older people’s health than a number of more readily appreciated conditions.
“A bit of fairness for the Broch, for the north-east, will go a long way to keeping our communities connected and social.”
“This is a welcome about-turn after a year with little support for this industry.
“It is better late than never and I am sure the volume of correspondence received has loudly made the case for local bingo.”
The news will come as a welcome relief to dozens of independent bingo clubs struggling under the latest lockdown. Further calls were made to highlight the plight of Scottish Bingo at the end of January. Since then at least one bingo club in Scotland, Buzz Bingo Glenrothes has closed permanently.
Miles Baron, CEO of The Bingo Association in Scotland added:
“As a result of thousands of bingo players responding to our call for support, the Bingo Association in Scotland has recently been informed that our Bingo is my Lifeline campaign has been successful, and all licensed bingo clubs in Scotland will receive a one-off grant in recognition of the challenges caused by their sustained closure over the last year.”