altA Mecca bingo hall in the West Midlands has applied for a licence to allow opening to change from 11pm to 2am so it can stage special live music and karaoke events. This could be an example of how things are set to change in the traditional bingo hall to tempt in new customers and keep others coming back time and again. With the popularity of online bingo increasing by the day, it’s not hard to see why traditional bingo halls are looking for new money making schemes.

The bingo hall in question is in the West Midlands town of Oldbury and is owned by Mecca Bingo. Currently, the hall is open between 10am and 11pm however the management have submitted an application to their local council to extend their opening hours to 2am. Longer 24-hour licences came into effect in the casino and drinks industries in 2005 and it seems bingo halls are thinking about following suit.

The application reached Sandwell Council with a supporting letter from planning agent, Graham Murdoch, representing Murdoch Associates. His supporting letter gave clear indication of exactly why the bingo hall wanted longer opening hours and how it may benefit the clientele and community. Murdoch explains that the bingo hall had been offering additional entertainment and refreshments up until its current closing time - after the end of the last bingo game - which had proved successful. He explained that Mecca Bingo are planning to keep a number of their clubs open later, subject to licence acceptance, so a new range of bingo games and other events could be introduced. Murdoch also asserted that the bingo club would hope to provide an enhanced range refreshments and food provisions for their later opening custom.

This bingo hall in particular is hoping to host monthly live events including talent shows, live hypnotists and karaoke in addition to company-developed bingo games including Binglo and rock’n’roll bingo. The site had previously been granted a casino licence over six years ago as Rank, the company who own both Mecca Bingo and Grosvenor Casinos were planning to extend the site. However, this licence was transferred at the last minute to a site at Birchley Island.

As already mentioned, many bingo halls have seen a downturn in their fortunes since the economic problems began earlier this decade and this has been compounded by the popularity of online bingo. Perhaps schemes like this one planned in Oldbury are in fact a clever way of igniting the community’s passion for bingo.