altNews this week has reported that the city of Preston will be losing its second bingo hall in three years with the closure of the Gala Bingo venue on Market Street. In 2009, the city saw the flagship Buckingham Bingo hall on New Lane closing its doors and it seems Prestonians just aren’t going out and playing bingo anymore.

With the release of Mary Portas’ report on how to revitalise the high street last week - in which it was recommended that empty stores and units be turned into community bingo halls - we at Bingo Hideout do wonder whether this idea is really going to work with bingo halls closing all over the country as we speak.

Preston’s Gala Bingo club will officially shut up shop on 4th February, blaming ‘difficult’ trading conditions for its closure. Up to 22 staff are expected to lose their jobs in the closure and it doesn’t bode well for Portas’ report when it appears that the bingo halls that are already open are experiencing turbulent trading. Gala Bingo has vowed to try and find alternative roles within the company at other clubs in the locale for the workers losing their jobs.

Preston still has the Club 3000 Bingo Hall on Tithebarn Street which doesn’t seem to be showing any sign of closing but the local council are understandably upset by the closure of the Gala Bingo hall, with one councillor describing the news as ‘devastating’.

The truth is, as we’ve discussed before, bingo is no longer a phenomenon confined to the purpose-run halls. The growth of online bingo means thousands upon thousands of people who may have visited traditional halls in the past can play bingo at Gala Bingo and similar sites online, from the comfort of their own homes. Players understand the many benefits of online bingo, from cheap ticket prices and cheaper food and drinks. There’s also no hassle for taxis or the long walk home after a night out at the bingo hall, with online bingo you’re already in the comfort of your own home.

However, when playing online bingo, you may miss out on some of the social aspects gained from playing in the traditional bingo hall. Bingo hall nights out are known for their fun and community spirit, which is something that is quite hard to replicate online.  The traditional bingo hall has its place in the community and despite the current lull in popularity; perhaps Portas’ work will ignite a new passion for the traditional style of gaming.

As already mentioned, the Preston Gala Bingo hall will close on February 4th 2012 so if you want to pay it one last visit, now’s the time.