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Bingo is one of the world’s favourite pastimes, and was a popular game in Europe for many centuries, especially in large cities like London. The game gained immense popularity in the UK during mid-20th century and many halls were erected for playing bingo in London, Birmingham, Leeds and other places. The UK was probably the first country to capitalise on the potential of the game. Even when online bingo rooms entered the scene, many of the earliest sites came from the UK.
The origins of the game can be traced to as early as the 16th century, when it was played by the Italians. By the 18th century, the game spread through to the other European nations like Germany and France. Over time, it also reached Australia and New Zealand. In London, even though players played for money, the game wasn’t considered to be ‘gambling’, since it was also played in churches, sports teams and other various social groups to raise money for charity and other groups. Bingo had not yet grown into becoming a form of entertainment for the masses.
The earliest public bingo halls in London were set in abandoned cinema houses and theatres. With the rising popularity of the game, dedicated halls solely for the purpose of playing bingo came into being. By the 1980s, the game had risen to become of the popular pastimes in the UK and one could find many dedicated halls for playing bingo in London.
The arrival of the internet gave the game its biggest break. Businesses utilised the new technology to launch bingo online, and the game received international attention. It even became popular in countries which had previously never heard of the game. However, sceptics were wary of shifting to the new version because they felt that it hampered the excitement of playing at a real hall.
When online bingo sites proved that they were here to stay, land based halls were now faced with a challenge. Many halls across the UK and beyond were left with no choice but to close. There were also other factors that acted against them- the passing of the anti-smoking law, which prohibited smoking in public places. This further discouraged people from visiting these halls. Now that they had an alternative, where they could ‘have their cake and eat it too’.
The recession that hit global markets in 2008 greatly impacted the across the board, and bingo was no exception. There was a drastic reduction in demand for bingo in London and other major hubs. Operators came up with numerous tactics such as TV campaigns and many ‘value for money’ offers to keep players interested in the game.
With the grip of the economic downturn being slowly loosened, the game is enjoying a revival online and offline. Once again, the game that was once a favourite way to have some fun and make some money in London enjoys a reputation as one of the most popularly played games online, thanks to its internet avatar.
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