Legs 11

28 01 2013


Over the last few months I have noticed the steady increase of television and online advertisements about bingo.

They are usually fast paced and wacky with bright colours and strange characters and seem to be targeting a younger market. Growing up I knew only a handful of bingo players. They tended to be middle aged, working class women with families who made their way to a bingo hall over the weekend to catch up with friends and escape the kids for an evening of relatively inexpensive entertainment. Events were often run by churches as a way of raising funds and on occasion the bingo club would organise a day out for members to the seaside.

I remember playing Bingo on holiday one year with my family. It was part of the evening entertainment and kept my sister and I quiet for an hour while we waited for the evening show to begin. The caller (one of the reps) was charismatic and humorous and we relished the prospect of winning a prize (I had my eye on a stuffed Snoopy Dog in an aeroplane) but I would never have imagined myself playing back at home or seeking out this type of entertainment. It felt old fashioned and a bit tired.

When I was 18 my boyfriend’s Mother took me on a ‘night out’ with her bingo club. We were taken on a coach where the ladies passed round a bottle of cheap fizz before arriving at a hotel where a function room have been booked with a buffet and a band. The blue rinse brigade were nice enough but very loud. My lasting impression of the evening, the people and the pastime bears no resemblance to the picture painted by current adverts promising fun, excitement and the chance to win big.

Maybe I missed the memo informing everyone that Bingo was now “cool” or maybe I misjudged it all those years ago. After all I ‘play’ the national lottery which is a very similar but requires almost no engagement or effort from me. Bingo is more sociable as it involves some interaction with others. Money is tight so the attraction of a big win is certainly appealing. The internet has provided Bingo to reinvent itself but embracing new ways in which people interact using social media sites – this could in part explain the evolution of the game and the young and vibrant new target audience.

However the few people who have admitted to me that they have played online bingo have done so with a sense of embarrassment. They play in secret, on their laptops often with their partner in the same room but unaware of what they are doing. One girl who had won regularly when she first started playing, reluctantly admitted to blowing her petrol budget for the month as she kept telling herself the lie “Just one more game”.

But the advertisers tell us that bingo is now “cool”.

So cool that you can avoid all social interaction by playing it on your own in the privacy of your own home and no one need ever know!




3 responses

28 01 2013

did you get the snoopy dog
then ??

28 01 2013

I did not 😦

29 01 2013
Lynn Chitty

I remember Bingo being like that when I was younger. Can’t say it ever appealed to me and even less so now. The online stuff will certainly encourage social isolation which is not good for the community. Me I much rather do things with real people in the same room ( or field )as me.

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