After years of fun and entertainment, Mecca Bingo has decided to close their bingo hall in Great Yarmouth. The bingo hall, currently located on the site of the old Regent Road cinema is due to close on 4th December and its former customers are faced with the trouble of travelling the 20 miles to Norwich to continue playing bingo.
Residents of Great Yarmouth are disappointed by the news and one resident, Anita Clarke, has even put together a campaign to try and save the club, having collected over 300 signatures already in favour of keeping the popular bingo club open. As well as disappointing the customers, the loss of the hall will also cost 24 people their jobs; although the Rank Group, who own Mecca Bingo have assured their employees they will try and find them other employment within the company.
Anita Clarke has aired the grievances of many employees and describes the event coming just before the Christmas period as “disgusting”, however The Rank Group are doing all in their power to ensure customers don’t have to miss out on their bingo evenings. In fact, they have even set up a bus service to move players to their Alysham Road site in Norwich for both afternoon and evening bingo sessions.
A spokesperson for Mecca Bingo made it clear they are still committed to providing quality bingo halls for the people of East Anglia, highlighting their £500,000 investment in its Norwich club as an example of its commitment. They have also hinted at the possibility of redeveloping a club in the Great Yarmouth area that is purpose built for bingo with its own car parking facilities. It’s clear the Mecca Bingo haven’t given up on bingo halls altogether (For those Great Yarmouth players who wish to try the internet variety of the game we can recommend that they play online bingo at Mecca Bingo).
The accelerated growth of online bingo combined with the smoking ban and general cost of living, the numbers of people actually going out to the bingo hall on a Friday night is dwindling. It seems to be a sign of the times that, for smaller clubs like Great Yarmouth and it is sadly proving to be fatal. However, as Anita Clarke’s campaign has shown, there are still hundreds of committed bingo players who want to be able to enjoy their gaming in the local bingo hall. She described the players as “like one big family” and it’s clear the town has been hit by the loss.
Whether the Great Yarmouth bingo hall is a victim of modern culture is something to be considered but it’s clear that despite a change in lifestyles and the growth of online bingo, there are still hundreds of fans of traditional bingo hall games.