To the uninitiated, bingo halls can seem akin to the library in terms of making noise.
The comical stereotype of getting death stares from lethal old ladies at the slightest mutter while the game is being called can be enough to scare some people off.
Like all stereotypes, there is some truth to it, but things have been changing.
Hard as it may be to believe, the idea that you cannot talk to your friends while the bingo balls are being called is no longer true – so long as you are sat in the designated area of course.
Yes, just like in the olden days when restaurants would ask you “Smoking or non-smoking?” when you rang up to book a table (look it up youngsters), there is now a bingo hall equivalent; talking or non-talking.
These new ‘social’ zones have been set up in many bingo halls specifically to allow a younger generation to enjoy bingo in their own way, without it upsetting the more traditionally minded players.
I will explore these a little later, but first, let’s have a look at the rules when it comes to talking in the bingo hall.
When Can You Talk in a Bingo Hall?
Let’s just dispel this myth straight away, shall we? You are allowed to talk in a bingo hall.
The whole point of going to the bingo is to socialise with the other players, but of course, there is a time for chat and a time for concentration.
Most bingo halls open a good hour or so before the first game starts, so you can settle in, catch up with your friends or other players you see regularly, grab a drink or whatever else you want to do.
Chat away during this time – the staff will probably join in as they come past.
However, when the caller has given their 2 minute warning before the game begins, it’s time to take your seat and get yourself sorted, and once you hear “eye down”, that’s when the talking must stop.
Games don’t tend to last all that long though, and it’s ok to have a little chat in between; just don’t start on any big topics or try and call out to someone across the room, it’s more of a quiet natter at this point.
Of course during any breaks you can also go to the bar, the loo, move to sit at another table to say hello to someone you’ve not seen for a while, etc.
There is a lot more freedom at bingo than people think, it’s just that, during the game itself, a lot of players prefer it to be quiet so they can concentrate on what they are doing.
Why is Talking Not Allowed During Bingo?
Once you understand the reasons behind the ‘no talking’ rule, it’s hard to get too grouchy about it.
Bingo is a fast paced game with a new number being called every couple of seconds.
It’s also a game where if you miss your call, you miss the win, so a distraction or a noise that takes your attention away from the game at a crucial point can literally cost you money.
In some games, like the National Game, there is a potential £50k at stake – imagine the fury you would feel if you missed your final number because someone shouted “Oi Brenda! Do you want sugar in your coffee?” as it was called.
People can get very competitive at bingo – there have even been fights on occasion due to noisy interruptions – and very defensive too if their normal routine is derailed.
Here are just a few reasons why it is polite to keep schtum during a game of bingo:
- The caller is working, talking over them is rude
- Some players might be hard of hearing
- Some players might be tracking lots of tickets and need to concentrate
- Some players might struggle to focus
- You might cause someone to miss a winning number
- You could cause an argument
- It’s not fair on staff who are put in the difficult position of having to ask you to be quiet
A game of bingo doesn’t take more than a couple of minutes to complete, so it’s best just keep quiet until it is over and respect everyone else in the room.
That goes for mobile phones too, make sure they are on silent during the game, or risk the ire of the room.
Unless of course, you are in the social zone…
Smart Lounges and Social Zones: Bingo for a New Generation
I’ve called them social zones so far, but there is no official name for these new bingo hall areas – Cosmo Bingo is Stalybridge call them Smart Lounges.
So what are they?
Well, these lounges are areas of the bingo club where you can still join in with the live bingo, but you don’t have to be so quiet and focussed.
It’s more like being in a bar or a coffee shop, with comfy seating and a relaxed atmosphere – maybe even some music – which invites conversation and laughter.
Anyone choosing to play in there is accepting that there will be noise, and people moving around, ordering drinks, maybe singing to the music, etc. It’s a much more vibrant atmosphere that suits a younger crowd.
Now of course, this is a generalisation, but I’ve been in one during the bingo, and the vast majority or Smart Lounge dwellers were not old enough to be retired if you know what I mean!
Yes there were a few older people in there too, but the point is, players have the choice. Their day/night at the bingo can be what they want it to be, and the best part is, it doesn’t impact the people who want to play in a quieter environment.
How Do They Work?
The people in these social zones can still hear the bingo caller, as the calls are relayed through speakers (the sound is balanced so the music and the caller can both be heard).
What’s more, TV screens display the numbers being called so if you aren’t listening, you can keep tabs visually.
Everyone has a digital ipad type device that they play from too, which they can follow if they like but it also informs them if they win or are close to winning.
This gives players every opportunity to spot a winning opportunity and tell their friends to be quiet for a second if they think they might be about to win something.
If they do win, there are buttons to press on all the tables which is the equivalent to making a claim in the bingo hall itself. The caller can hear/see the claim being made thanks to some clever technology, and stops the game while the ticket is checked.
It’s been very well thought through, and the clubs that have these lounges have reported great success, attracting players who want a traditional game and those who want more of a party atmosphere on the same night, without anyone getting annoyed.
Bingo has always managed to adapt as times have changed, and this apparently has even extended to talking during the game.
People back in the 60s would be outraged at the idea, but it has allowed the people of today to find new love for the game of bingo.