The Future of Gala Bingo
The Future of Gala Bingo
Gala Bingo is the UK’s largest operator of bingo halls, with 129 located throughout the country. The company is made up of 3,900 employees and its halls collectively receive in excess of 1.2 million visits every month.
Gala Bingo’s beginnings
It was back in 1991 that Gala Bingo was created. A company called Bass plc purchased bingo halls from Granada Theatre Limited in a deal reportedly worth £147 million, with the intention of merging them with its own Coral Social Clubs. The official launch of Gala Bingo occurred on 17 October 1991 when a total of 17 bingo clubs were relaunched by Bass plc with a new name, image and branding. Then in 1997, a management buy-in saw all of the 130 Gala Bingo halls purchased from Bass plc in a deal reportedly worth £235 million.
Over the next decade years or so, Gala Bingo continued expanding and diversifying its collection of clubs up and down the country. However, in 2006 the smoking ban came into effect into Scotland, with it also coming to England, Wales and Northern Ireland throughout 2007. This ban resulted in a number of halls having to close down; at the start of 2007, there were some 174 halls and now, as previously mentioned, there are 129. It’s thought that the growing popularity of online bingo has contributed to the closure of some bingo halls.
October 2005 saw Gala Bingo merge with Coral Eurobet – the deal was estimated to be worth £2.18 billion. This merger resulted in the formation of the UK’s single largest bingo operator and third largest bookmaker. Then in 2015, it was announced that Gala Coral Group would be merging with Ladbrokes to form Ladbrokes Coral, which is currently the country’s largest bookmaker.
Gala Bingo online
With a bingo brand as big as Gala Bingo, one thing about its future is for sure: even though the online bingo side may continue to grow in popularity, there will always be a demand for traditional bingo halls. However, it has recently been reported that Gala Bingo’s private equity owners are looking to offload a number of bingo halls in order to improve on annual profits.
The company’s 2015 operating profits were reported as £746,000 – a 5% decrease from the profits reported in 2014. It’s also been reported that a rebranding may be in the works, with the name Buzz Bingo being floated as an idea. A Gala spokesperson chose not to comment on the potential rebranding; the spokesperson did, however, state that the company occasionally looked at which halls could be disposed of.
Despite this, Gala Bingo CEO Simon Wykes has commented that there’s no chance of the bingo industry (specifically bingo halls) dying out because they’ve always had some level of popularity. Though bingo halls in general (not just those by Gala Bingo) may have declined in numbers over the past few years due to various reasons, those in the industry believe the decline is over and that 2017 and beyond will see far fewer halls close down; there may even be new ones opened.
So where does this leave Gala Bingo? It’s bingo halls may be fewer in number than several years ago, but the brand is still strong, relevant and popular. Some players may have migrated online, though there’s still room for both bingo halls and bingo sites to operate. Hopefully, bingo hall visitor numbers will either continue to remain stable, or even grow; as for the online bingo site, its popularity is surely going to keep on growing over the next few years, especially since recent advances like mobile gaming have made online casinos and bingo sites more accessible to smartphone and tablet users. Some have predicted that virtual reality may be next thing for the gambling industry: if it does indeed take off, Gala Bingo could develop some sort of virtual bingo hall experiences that combines the traditional bingo hall experience with the convenience of gambling from the comforts of your own home.