What is the Bingo Association?

Bingo Association LogoAs the ‘consumers’ or ‘end users’ – which is what bingo players would be called if we were talking in management speak – we don’t tend to need or want to know what goes on behind the bingo scenes at an operational level.

We don’t need to see spreadsheets and annual general meeting minutes from the bingo halls we play at, we just need to know that the caller is good, the staff are welcoming, the venue is a pleasant place to be, and the bingo is fun.

For all of those things to fall into place though, it takes a remarkable amount of effort behind the scenes.

Now, obviously, the companies putting in this effort aren’t martyrs to the big bingo cause, they are doing it to make themselves and their companies’ money, but there is an organisation above even them.

Most industries have trade bodies or trade associations. Their job is not to look after any one specific company within the industry, but to look after the industry as a whole. They are there to make sure all the companies working within the bingo industry are doing so in a way which reflects positively on bingo.

If 50% of bingo halls were smelly, the staff rude, and the bingo caller cheated, then bingo would get a bad reputation and fewer people would want to go and give it a try, so the behaviour of the bad bingo halls would have a negative impact on those that were doing things right.

That’s what these trade associations are there for, and for us lot, it’s the Bingo Association that keeps our industry safe and fun.

About the Bingo Association

Bingo Association Meeting

There used to be two different organisations looking after bingo in the UK, but this was not the most effective way of handling things as you can imagine – if you want everyone to pull together in the same direction, then you need one voice to follow, not two.

These organisations were the British Bingo Operators’ Association, and the Bingo Association of Great Britain. You can see why this might have caused confusion, the names are basically the same words in a different order, a bit like that scene out of ‘Monty Python’s Life of Brian’ with the Judean People’s Front and the People’s Front of Judea.

Anyway, we digress…

In 1998, the BBOA and the BAGB merged to form what we have now, The Bingo Association. This gave the industry a single voice, and united clubs up and down the country.

Now, 98% of all licensed bingo operators in the UK are members of the Bingo Association, so it really can claim to be the guiding hand of the industry in Great Britain.

In their own words, the Bingo Association say:

“Our mission is to represent the industry, promoting and developing the interests of all GB licensed bingo operators.”

That means they have their finger on the pulse of the gambling industry as a whole, new laws or gambling regulations, developments within the bingo world, and even the state of the economy where it can have an impact on the bingo industry.

What do the Bingo Association do?

Bingo Association Consultation

It’s a mixed bag really. They are partly there to guide and inform and partly there to actively reach out and engage when the situation demands it.

If the government was planning on changing a law that would impact the bingo sector then you can bet the Bingo Association would be picking up the phone to get info and make the industry’s case.

Equally, if the bingo industry was in trouble, they might proactively lobby the government to help with tax cuts on bingo, for example.

The Bingo Association is an organisation that other organisations or law makers might come to and consult, but equally, they might request meetings with other bodies on behalf of their members.

The Bingo Association talks to the likes of:

  • operators and owners of bingo clubs
  • central government and policy makers
  • regulators and compliance organisations
  • organisations involved in research, education and treatment of problem gambling
  • media
  • other sector trade organisations

By keeping these communication channels open, the Bingo Association protects the interests of its members by providing industry forums, shaping and driving the bingo sector’s agenda, liaison with key third parties, active involvement in consultations on bingo sector and broader regulatory and business issues, and providing media representation.

Lots more management speak there, but it basically means they are a place outsiders can come to get expertise when considering law changes, or when they have questions, or when the media need quotes, and they are also a place that agrees on how the bingo industry should run, react, adapt etc. as time goes on.

The people making the decisions are not faceless corporates though.

There are a few people in place who work solely for the Bingo Association, with a Chairman, CEO, and Head of Governance and Compliance at the top; but the executive council is made up of people currently working in the bingo industry.

The setup means it represents all of the different companies fairly too, or at least as fairly as can reasonably be expected:

Bingo Operator Council Reps
Buzz Group Ltd 1
Mecca Bingo 2
Carlton Leisure Plc 2
Castle Leisure Plc 2
Fraser Capital Management Ltd 2
Merkur 2
Majestic Bingo 2
Shipley Brothers 1
Club2000 1
Opera Bingo Ltd 1
Full Gaming Management Services 1
Merkur Cashino (Praesepe) 1
Parkdean Resorts 1

There are 62 member companies, and as you can see, the major operators like Buzz and Mecca are not overly represented, and smaller independent operators like Club2000 (not to be confused with Club3000) who only one or two clubs get a voice too.

These people will meet regularly and talk about issues that impact the industry and collectively make a decision on how to deal with them, so the bingo industry works as a unit and speaks as one.

Bingo Association Services

So now you know who the Bingo Association is and what they are tasked with doing, but that’s not all.

They also run a few other services which are there for the players rather than the operators, so there is a link with the people who keep the bingo industry alive and make it so great.

After all, the bingo halls would be pretty useless without you lot!

Bingo Connect

Bingo Connect MagazineThe Bingo Association publishes this magazine three times a year, which is for anyone who has anything to do with the bingo industry to read.

You may well find copies lying around your local club too though, as some players like to read up on the latest gossip and keep up to date with any bingo related news and developments.

If you’ve never seen a copy but are interested you can go to the Bingo Connect website and sign up for alerts, and when a new issue is published you will get an email. It’s published digitally too and is free to anyone who wants it.

The magazine contains a good mix of fun stuff that is quick and easy to read, like a piece on a custom made gold plated ‘Royal’ dabber that Mecca made for King Charles’ coronation; through to current affairs type articles and bingo business news.

There are also adverts in there for new games and products, as well as information about any exciting developments (Mecca’s Loose Women Bingo was announced in here first), and information on any big bingo celebrations or competitions.

They even cover the good that bingo does for communities via charity donations and the like, so it’s a feel good read all round really.

Bingo Industry Self-Exclusion Scheme

Bingo Industry Self Exclusion SchemeOn a more serious note, the Bingo Association also runs the Bingo Industry Self-Exclusion Scheme.

Gambling addiction doesn’t tend to impact bingo players in the same way it does sports bettors or casino players, but anybody can find themselves in trouble if things go wrong for them.

You might already know about GamStop, which enables online gamblers to block themselves from all online companies signed up to the scheme with one email or phone call.

Well, the Self Exclusion Scheme is a very similar thing, but for brick-and-mortar licensed bingo halls.

All you have to do is complete a digital application form and send in a digital image of yourself, and these details will be added to a database. This information is totally confidential and held securely so it’s in no danger of being leaked or anything like that.

You will also need to do a brief interview, just to make sure you understand what you are asking, and then once you sign the self-exclusion form the information will be processed staff will no longer let you play bingo in licensed bingo halls.

The easiest way to do it, in fact what the Bingo Association recommend, is via your local bingo club. They will talk you through it, give you the form and even take a photo for you, before submitting it on your behalf.

You will probably be aware that many bingo halls have online bingo websites as well, and the Self Exclusion Scheme wouldn’t extend to those, you would need GamStop for that.

In the same way that the Self Exclusion Scheme can’t stop you signing onto a website to play bingo, GamStop cannot prevent you walking into a bingo club, so the two should be used together.

Bingo Friends Social App

Bingo Friends Social AppBack into happier territory, and the Bingo Friends Social App is a wonderful idea from the Bingo Association, created to make it easier for people who love bingo to socialise and play together.

It’s a free app that you can download, and then you create a short profile of who you are, the area where you live, and maybe a photo or two of you at the bingo.

Then you can find clubs near you as well as other bingo players who have the app and are looking for a new bingo buddy.

You can use the app to chat via direct messages or as part of a community chat board, so it’s easier to get to know people before deciding to meet up for a coffee and a bingo session.

This strikes at the very heart of what bingo is supposed to be, a laid-back social opportunity to make new friends and have some fun.

The best part is, there is no pressure.

If you don’t want to meet up with somebody you don’t have to, and if you don’t feel like talking you can just read the community posts.

But for anyone who is slightly apprehensive about going to the bingo alone but has always fancied giving it a go, this could give them the extra bit of confidence they need.

Each registered user is checked by a real person at the Bingo Association, so everyone on there will be genuine, making it perfectly safe to use.


Bingo Association CharityLastly, the Bingo Association also do their bit for charity.

As an industry, bingo is pretty big on fundraising; there is always a bingo caller running a marathon dressed as a dauber or something, or a collection bucket at the front door for a local good cause.

Well the trade body is no different, regularly raising money and reporting on the charities they have helped to further raise awareness.

They usually work with a single charity for a minimum of 3 years so that they can properly give support. In the past they have worked with Alzheimer’s UK, Breast Cancer, and Macmillan, although since 2015 the supported charity has been Variety, the Children’s Charity.

This has included funding 34 sunshine coaches for children with special needs, and raising around £2 million pounds by 2023 to support the charity in many different ways.

The money is raised during events such as Association golf days, linked bingo games where a portion of the proceeds are funnelled to the charity, or playing specific games for the charity rather than for profit – MPs often get involved too.

This is not something the Bingo Association has to do of course, but most big companies and trade bodies like to do what they can to make the world a better place, and this is how the Bingo Association do it.