New Buzz Surrounding Gala Bingo

Gala Bingo is the UK's largest land-based bingo operator, with a total of 124 bingo clubs and more than 1.1million members to date, which means they claim 38% of the UK retail bingo market. In 2006, many years after opening their high street bingo doors, Gala Bingo launched an online bingo site - one which initially ran on their own unique software. Six years later, Gala jumped ship and opted for the popular Playtech software, with a vast selection of bingo and games to play. A series of television commercials made Gala Bingo a household name, especially with the launch of the Coronation Street branded bingo and slot games. Previously, the high street and online bingo brands were two very different offerings, despite Gala Leisure owning both, but all this is about to change.

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It's all bingo-ing mad!

The multi- award-winning bingo site is about to make things very different indeed! Soon, Gala Bingo will be known as Buzz Bingo, but the rebranding isn't the only thing on the cards. Playtech will continue to be the content supplier for the bingo brand, which will see them rolling out the Playtech ONE Omni-Channel solution by 2019 - but what does that mean? Simply put; Buzz Bingo will be launching a single account alongside its single wallet system, allow customers to play online and at land-based venues, from a single account. Not only that, but players can use their accounts to order food and drinks - which has never been seen or done before!

Playtech will also launch its best-performing bingo and slot games on Buzz Bingo Electronic Bingo Terminals, allowing punters to log in and try their luck on a huge range of games, which were only available online previously. Playtech has exclusive rights to DC Comic titles, all of which will be available in clubs, games such as Superman The Movie and Batman and the Riddler Riches slot machines. Initially, two clubs on the high street will be changed to Buzz Bingo, before converting all remaining clubs to the new brand by early 2019.

Partner up

Playtech chief operating officer, Shimon Akad said on the exciting news; 'We are delighted to announce this new strategic partnership with the UK's market leader in bingo. Through Playtech ONE we have proven the value our technology can bring to leading retail brands. Our data driven omni-channel technology allows operators to devise bespoke, intelligent marketing campaigns and seamless online and offline customer journeys. This means that, on average, an omni-channel player will spend twice as much as that of a single channel player. We are very excited to be partnering with Gala Leisure and its new Buzz Bingo brand."

Chris Matthews, the leisure chief executive at Gala Leisure added: 'Our decision to partner with market leader Playtech is based on delivering an exciting, transformational proposition for our customers. We look forward to working with Playtech in the future as a key partner."

Light it up

Many high street bingo clubs have suffered since the ban on smoking outdoors came into effect in July 2007, one, in particular, was Mecca Bingo. Rank gaming group, the second largest operator in the UK, who own Mecca Bingo, were forced to shut the doors for good, blaming the lack of customers on the smoking ban. The unfair tax regime meant bingo halls were already facing a financial crisis, but the ban on smoking literally saw the final nail hammered into the coffin for Mecca Bingo. Rank reported that the ban in Scotland had seen their bingo clubs lose more than 15% - which resulted in all 9 clubs closing with a loss of more than 230 jobs.

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However, the smoking ban hasn't been all bad; it's actually been a breath of fresh air to Gala Bingo. In 2007, Gala Bingo stated they were not likely to suffer long-term from the ban - and how right they were. Fast forward to 2018 and things have never looked more promising for Gala, especially with more than 100,000 winners made every week and eye-watering cash up for grabs in bingo and games. Rebranding to Buzz Bingo is certainly going to create excitement among the bingo community, what with the ability to merge online accounts with your local bingo branch.

An old flame in demand

John Kelly, the former founder of Gala Coral Group has been recruited as non-executive chairman, to oversee the rebranding. The total cost of the ‘new name', is an estimated £40m and the expertise of Mr Kelly will make the process an easier one. Chris Matthews stated that Mr Kelly had a deep understanding of gaming and bingo, he continued; 'As we begin our new strategy and look towards online in the future, we are delighted to bring John back to where he started, having founded the Gala operations. He shares my vision for the potential of Buzz Bingo and his deep knowledge of the sector is unparalleled.'

Gala Leisure saw an increase in demand from younger bingo players so are trying to capitalise on this, by directing the makeover to new, younger customers - because bingo is played by your typical grey-granny crowd no more - times are changing.

In an increasingly digital age, where younger generations are spending more time on mobile and tablet devices, it's only right that bingo sites move with the times and this is exactly what Gala Bingo are doing. But what is the driving force behind younger people playing bingo? Activities surrounding younger generations have never been more diverse; instead of going out, more and more people are choosing to stay home - and this is why there is an influx in the younger population playing bingo and games online.

Source:

"Smoking ban forces Rank to close bingo halls", Karen Attwood, independent.co.uk

"Playtech seals omni-channel supply deal with Gala Leisure", gamingintelligence.com

"Former Gala boss returns to help put the Buzz into bingo", Ben Woods, telegraph.co.uk

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