It’s no secret that mobile and tablet bingo and gaming is extremely popular especially with the younger generation of players. Just a few years ago mobile technology was limited but advances in mobile software and applications have enabled millions to enjoy their favorite games on their smart phones and tablet devices. In the UK Mecca Bingo Operator Rank Group is hoping to lure these young players to their bingo halls by offering the use of tablet devices in most of their bingo halls.
Rank also owns and operates the Grosvenor casino chain in the UK. The company has launched its first electronic-only bingo hall in Reading. Playing bingo on the tablet devices which are similar to iPads requires less concentration on the part of players. Rank’s chairman and chief executive Ian Burke said the new technology allows players to eat, drink and socialize while playing. Although Rank still believes the traditional bingo games with their unique calls such as two Fat Ladies, Gandhi’s Breakfast and Duck and a Crutch will always exist Burke believes that electronic bingo will attract a new generation to Rank’s bingo halls.
During the first half of the fiscal year Rank’s Mecca Bingo Halls increased player numbers by 4% to 1.1 million. A lot of the new growth comes from the booming popularity of mobile and online bingo. Mecca was one of the first major British bingo operators to launch a successful online bingo site. Rank launched the site just after the imposition of a national smoking ban that devastated player numbers at bingo halls. This year revenue from Mecca’s online operations increased by 11% to £30.4 million during the six month period leading up to December 31st. Revenue from live bingo halls dipped 1% to £115.7 million during the same period.
Rank believes that there are opportunities to take advantage of the popularity of online bingo by expanding digital offerings at its land based gaming venues. Rank CEO Burke stated “The electronic gaming has definitely got an appeal to the under-35s.” Burke said that even men have been attracted to bingo played on tablet devices. Rank believes the new format could attract a “more even gender mix” of players. Burke stated “Electronic gaming offers all sorts of additional benefits to players. I wouldn’t describe our handheld devices as an iPad, but it’s the same principle. Like many people, three years ago I would never have imagined iPads being as popular or as successful as they are. A lot of people love the tactile aspect of playing bingo with paper and pen and I imagine that will be around for a long, long time to come. But playing bingo electronically is much more akin to playing it on the internet except it’s done in a social and community setting.”